I am sitting in a small square in Sarajevo. Somehow I’ve always had the urge to come back here, to this country which suffered so much in the recent past. Memories are flooding my mind. I brought my two sons here when they were children to run around and to rollerblade. They ran, played, raced, and shouted excitedly. I watched, sometimes worried, always prayed for their safety, and once in a while helped them with a game or refereed their competitions.
Over the years, Christmas has taken on different meanings for me. When I was a young child, it meant a special family holiday, the Christmas story at Sunday school, walking home in the snow, a brown paper bag with a big Jaffa orange, whole walnuts to crack, and a new book to read.
Some of the loneliest people are surrounded by others, yet they feel that no one understands them.—That is, the real person that they are. They long for someone to share their interests and problems, to sympathize with them. But it’s true that even your lifelong companion, your closest friend, does not really know you, does not really understand you after all, because in every life there’s a locked door or two where no one enters but yourself.
I’d been trying not to think about Christmas, dreading the day, hoping against hope that some angel would come into my life and make everything okay. I even tried pretending that it was just a normal day, nothing special, in hopes that would make the loneliness go away. But I couldn’t avoid it: Christmas was all around me, and I was alone. No one to talk to, no one to laugh with, and no one to wish me a happy Christmas. With each minute that passed I was getting more depressed, and that’s what I dreaded the most!
I guess I’m in the season of life where I’m so occupied living life and keeping up with all my projects and everything I need to do as a mother, caregiver, teacher, and wife that I just can’t seem to find the time to write blog posts and letters to friends about myself.
Some song lyrics have a big impact on me. One example is Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.” The chorus of which says, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with.”
It was 1974, my boyfriend and I had just split up, and I was heartbroken. For weeks I alternated between trying to avoid him and trying to catch his attention. Attending the same school that he did was torture! This song helped me then to look outward, to reach out. Half a lifetime later, it had the same effect.
Turn to Me in your loneliness. I love you dearly, and I am here for you anytime, all the time. I am your constant companion, your best friend.
When you feel like no one cares and there is no love to be found, that is the time to lie back in My arms and find peace. When you are discouraged and feel like a mess, look into My face and see Me smile upon you, for I love you just the way you are. When you feel worried or frustrated, run to Me. I will be your perfect companion. When you feel that no one can possibly understand the difficulties you are passing through, that is the time to come to Me. I always understand. Set your affections on Me, and I will fill your every need.
“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” the Bible tells us.1 That friend is Jesus, who also promises, “I am with you always”2 and “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”3 His presence can fill the aching void within that we all sometimes feel, no matter how many close companions we may have on life’s journey. We need to learn to let Jesus fill that void.
There is a mystery in human hearts: to every one of us, from time to time, there comes a sense of utter loneliness.
Some of the loneliest people in the world are those who are constantly surrounded by others, yet they feel that no one truly knows or understands them. They may even have an abundance of material things—everything to satisfy every physical need—yet they complain of loneliness. They long to share their interests with someone, to find someone who will listen to their problems and sympathize with them.