It was early in the morning when I noticed I had a text message from my son.
“Mom … You feel friendless? That makes me sad mom. I feel that way too sometimes.”
And gosh, that last sentence hurt my heart. No momma ever wants her children (including grown children) to feel friendless. Not ever!
My son’s text was in response to an observation I had shared on social media about all the things “I did not know … that I did not know” when one moves halfway across the country and leaves 30 years of beautiful friendships behind.
Like … it never dawned on me that in moving to a new city, most of the people I would meet (in my age range) would already have an established circle of decade-long friendships and were not actually looking to expand that circle. In other words, it took longer than I had anticipated to forge new friendships and yes—there have been some lonely days. But that’s part of journey and I’m okay because I have an amazing family who loves me well. It’s not been devastating … it’s just not been what I expected.
And I certainly never expected my post to make my son feel sad or that it would hurt his heart for his momma. It never crossed my mind. So, I did what any good momma would do … I responded to his text message:
Aww … I do not feel sad because I have my family and y’all are my very best friends. And you—sweet son of mine—you make me happy every day. I just didn’t realize that most people (my age) already have their lifetime friends and are not looking to expand that circle. But it’s okay, because these days—time is precious, and I’d rather spend it with all of you.”
But there is something else. In this God-ordained lesson I’m becoming aware that as a body of believers we [including me] have lost the art of practicing hospitality … the art of opening our hearts and homes to the lost and the lonely. A few days ago, I heard someone say, “There is a crisis of loneliness.” And I can’t shake those words because I know they are true.
Like this past Tuesday. Your daddy and I went to Cracker Barrel for lunch and seated right across the aisle was an older lady sitting all by herself. She smiled at me and I smiled back. But a little while later I looked over at her and I thought “she looks sad. I think she’s fighting back tears.”
A few moments later a kind-hearted waitress stopped at the woman’s table and began to speak to her. When I glanced over, I saw the tears spilling down the woman’s face.
The woman (her name was Shirley) noticed that I had looked over and I heard her softly say to the waitress, “I think that lady wants to speak to you.” The waitress turned around and looked at me and said, “May I help you?” I pointed to Shirley and said to the waitress, “No. I’m just really worried about her.”
Shirley smiled at me through her tears, so I got up from our table, walked over and wrapped my arms around her. She whispered through the weeping, “I lost my husband a couple of months.” And I said, “I’m so sorry. How long were you married?” She sobbed, “58 years.” I held her a moment longer as she tried to compose herself. I then pulled a chair around and sat down right next to her and just let her talk about her husband—the one she was desperately missing.
By the time our food arrived, she seemed much better. But before leaving her I asked, “Would it be okay if I prayed for you?” She squeezed my hand and nodded yes. It was so sweet, so precious, because after I finished praying for her, she continued to hold my hand and then began praying for me … returning the blessing and thanking me profusely for praying for her.
It was an incredibly tender moment … right there in the middle of Cracker Barrel!
As I returned to our table and she sat at her table … all alone … those word that I cannot shake, “there is a crisis of loneliness” reverberated through my whole being.
When she rose to leave, I reached out and grasped her hand, pulled her over to our table and introduced her to your daddy. She asked him, “Did you know my husband? He was a firefighter?” I reminded her that we had only recently moved to Tennessee. And she said, “Oh, yes… that’s right.” Still holding her hand, I looked over at your father and said, “Honey, I have told Shirley if ever we see each other in Cracker Barrel again … she is to join us at our table.” She smiled and squeezed my hand as we parted ways.
There is a crisis of loneliness—everywhere.
So, sweet son of mine, in answer your question, I’m not sad. I have the best children in the world. Children who have grown up to become our best friends. But I am deeply concerned … that we should be extending to others in greater measure … warm invitations to share a meal around our table of love.
Love you son and your compassionate heart! Love every single moment of being with you. You make my momma’s heart happy … always.
And the son responded: “You need to post this!