by Mary Somerville
Having a consuming purpose beyond ourselves is vital to overcoming loneliness. Piper writes: "God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display His supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of Him in every part of our lives."
My consuming purpose as a mom will seem diminished if I examine my feelings of loneliness when my children are out of the home. God has ordained that our children leave us, and when that happens there is a big adjustment. But in that loneliness we can center on doing things that will magnify Christ.
A missionary to Mongolia shared about her extreme loneliness on a field where they were the only believers in the area. When her children left for college her loneliness was intensified. Instead of going down in despair she poured herself into making Christ known in their needy corner of Christ's vineyard with even more fervor. I also found that my ministry to teen mothers has filled my heart as my children have moved on. Do you have a consuming purpose in your life?
If you are bereft of all your friends, you are never alone because of your husband who is your "companion" (Mal. 2:14), the primary one whom God has given you to dispel loneliness. Work on making that friendship the best that it can be! How sad for our husbands to think that we are friendless when they are there for us! We can take intense pleasure in the friendship that we have in our man, and we should always seek to make it better. We can ask them to pray for us in our burdens. A key purpose of marriage is for companionship and for lifting one another up.
You may feel like the ministry has robbed you of your husband. Because your husband doesn't have a 9 to 5 job, it may seem like he is constantly too busy. He is always studying late, visiting people, or going to meetings. When he is home he is tired of talking because of interacting with people all day long, whereas you have been cooped up in the house all day with the kids and are dying to talk to someone.
If you have made sure that you are not making an idol out of your husband's friendship and you are seeking Christ first, then there may come a time when you need to talk to him. Just as we do with any other problem that we encounter, bring it to him in meekness. Husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way, but they can't understand us unless we share with them (1 Pet. 3:7). We are to go to them in private. Hopefully, our husbands will listen to us as we pour out our hearts and seek to work on this area of friendship and communication.
The depth of your companionship is just as important for him as it is for you, even though he may not realize it as readily. This is so vital that we are going to take the whole next two chapters (of Mary's book, One with a Shepherd: the Tears and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage, from which these columns are taken) to delve into how to make the most of our marriages.
Perhaps your husband has a traveling ministry such as Stuart Briscoe, who traveled for years establishing overseas missions, or as Billy Graham, whose evangelistic ministry always takes him away from home. In that case, you as a wife have chosen to sacrifice your husband's presence in the home for the Kingdom of God and He will bless you for it.
Even if you have not decided together on this type of ministry, it is important that you relinquish your husband to ministry. For him to fulfill his calling, you must make sacrifices. You may have to bear with times of loneliness for Christ's church. The only one who can meet your deepest need is Jesus. If you are not satisfied with Christ alone, then you will never be satisfied, no matter how much attention your husband gives you. If you are satisfied with Christ, then you can make the most out of the time that you do get together and seek Him to help you to know how to cultivate more of it.
Sometimes, your loneliness may come due to the actions of others. Our daughter Michelle's mother-in-law wrote her and her husband, Tim, expressing how much she missed them (they are missionaries in Africa). She then told them how she was encouraged by the life of Hannah who in return for her giving Samuel back to God, she was given a son who was mightily used to draw his own generation, and all generations after him, to the One he so faithfully served. She shared that there are surely costs, but the rewards are even greater.
Tim responded, "Yes, we are missing y'all more and more, too, as the time wears on. But as you said, it makes the reunions all the sweeter, and in the meantime, it offers us a tangible reminder that Christ owns us and that this is a small sacrifice of love in response to His great love for us. And it appetizes us for heaven all the more."
Dear wife, if you are lonely, seek your solace in the One who died alone so you would never be alone. Make Him your joy. Take delight in the promises of God and go to Him in constant communion. Focus on others and initiate friendships. Reach out to others who may be lonely too. Have a consuming purpose. Make the most of your husband's friendship. Relinquish all those you love for the Kingdom of God, remembering that any sacrifices you make for Christ will be richly rewarded.