the loneliness of the sparrow

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young– a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. – Psalm 84:3

My alarm rings at 5:45 AM. First call to wake up. I heed no attention to it and go back to sleep. At 6:30, my alarm rings again. Second call to wake up. I can’t get myself to get up so I dismissed it again and went to bed. The alarm doesn’t ring anymore. Both my phones were drained of battery. Automatically, I get up knowing somehow that I’m supposed to be up at this time. I panicked, thinking it must be past 8, and the driver must be waiting for a while. I sprang up from the bed, charged my phone. It was 7:23 AM. Why don’t I ever hang a working clock in my room?

It’s the 29th of December, 3 days before the new year. My sisters are on a road trip to the north to spend the new year in the mountains with the husband and the fiancé. I envy them because I would have also loved to spend the New year in the mountains, where you don’t hear the firecrackers or see the fireworks and instead you hear the humming of the birds and the singing of the trees, and where there is just pure solitude and the quiet transition of the new year. But here I am, working.

I must say I should refuse to play the pity game, but I’ve been sitting in front of my desk answering emails for work the whole day and all I could think of is: what am I doing here? I understand that I can’t come home because I should oversee our operations. I understand that I’ve been home quite a lot this year and I really can’t leave. And it isn’t like this is my first new year alone because exactly last year, I slept though the new year. Still, I wish I were…somewhere. Not necessarily home, because right now, this is home. But I wish I were somewhere, with somebody, or anybody. I wish I weren’t alone for New year.

I don’t know why this year should be any different when I’ve already gone through two new year celebrations by myself. Maybe it was the effect of watching too many proposals on youtube last night. Or maybe it’s going through all my downloaded movies and feeling sick of all of them, because I’ve watched everything more than twice, and there’s nothing new to watch anymore. Maybe it’s me being tired of browsing through Facebook and seeing everyone being somewhere, doing something, or not even posting anything because they’re somewhere and doing something, and I’m still here browsing anyway. Maybe it’s the screaming silence of this house, like I wake up and it’s just me, I eat, and it’s just me, I go to bed, and it’s still just me. Maybe it’s just hoping that people would even take notice, give me a call, ask how I am. Because who spends New year by herself, right? See, I told you I wanted to avoid the pity party, but the odds of not going there are against me right now.

Or it could be that I am just really feeling so alone. My mom tagged me on a note on Facebook, which was very encouraging and comforting because it was exactly about this –the feeling of being “left behind or set aside.” The author of the Proverbs 31 Ministry writes,

“In reality, I don’t think anyone else really noticed my predicament. After all by this time everyone in the room was busy passing rolls and salad dressing options. In my head I started to have a little pity conversation: Well self, would you like a roll? Or ten perhaps? It’s certainly an option when you’re sitting single at a table for ten.

And that’s when a very clear sentence popped into my head, “You aren’t set aside, Lysa. You are set apart.” It wasn’t audible. And it wasn’t my own thought. I knew it was a thought assigned by God that I needed to ponder.

To be set aside is to be rejected.

That’s exactly what the enemy would have wanted me to feel. If he could get me to feel this, then I’d become completely self-absorbed in my own insecurity and miss whatever reason God had for me to be at this event.

To be set apart is to be given an assignment that requires preparation.

That’s what I believe God wanted me to see. If He could get me to see this, I’d be able to embrace the lesson of this situation. Have you ever been in this place? Maybe you’re there this Christmas season. It’s tough when everything around you screams “merry” while you’re aching with loneliness and feel anything but.”

Yesterday, the world was stunned when, yet again, a plane went missing carrying 162 passengers. It is said that this year was aviation history’s worst year, with the missing Malaysian airlines, the tragic blowing up of yet another, and now this one. If I feel lonely or missing family, imagine what the family and relatives of those who are missing are feeling right at this moment. A lot of people are travelling this time of the year to come home to be with family. Yet they will never come home to one anymore because of this tragedy, should it be found out that the plane has crashed.

While valid, it brings your sad little plight to shame to consider that most people are going through tougher times of isolation and grief. Of course to me, my sad little plight matters, just as it does to God. But it is exactly this self-absorbed perspective that steals you of joy and makes you just look at yourself, and not the world outside that is hurting. A change in perspective is a good thing, a good practice. It humbles you. It makes you grateful.

Someday, my new year celebration will be different. Who knows if a year from now, I would be celebrating with somebody —friends, perhaps someone special? A lot can happen in a year, and you just hold out to hope, to believing and trusting in your God, in your Saviour, who is “close to the broken-hearted”, who cares for you as he does for the sparrows, who sees you, loves you like no other and promises to “be with you always”. When you understand the simplicity of that truth, that God is ever-abiding, never leaving your side, never deserting you, then you will have all the reasons to celebrate not just new year, but really, all the days of the year ahead.

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