Make your choice
By Sim Ling Ai Hiong
“Do you ever get lonely?” a friend asked me over the phone one day. “Sometimes” I replied.
I recall the days when I was still single.
I was working in the city, away from home; and I was renting a room. After a long day at work, I returned to my ‘home’ – a small room. I tried my best to make the room cosy and comfortable. I had a comfortable bed with pillows, cushions, and a bright coloured bed-spread. A small study table sits in one corner, with a small bookcase next to it. My clothes were neatly tucked away in the built-in wardrobe.
I had improvised a small table which sat neatly in another corner of the room. I threw a bright coloured tablecloth over it and decorated it with a small floral arrangement, some photos of family members, and a cassette player. A small rug covered part of the floor, and on it a couple of large scattered cushions on which I could relax. I loved my room – it was a haven I could come home to after a long tiring day. But I still miss my family.
Sometimes I felt lonely.
My landlord and landlady were very nice people, but they lived very busy lives and were seldom home. Most of the time I was by myself. I would have a ‘takeaway’ for dinner. Sometimes I wished someone was around to share the meal with me and to chat as we eat. But when you have to eat alone day after day, it can get quite lonely, and somehow the food didn’t taste as appetising as it looked!
One day as I was relaxing on the cushions, a thought came to mind. Surely there must be things I could do so I won’t feel lonely.
I took out pen and paper and started to list a few things I could do.
My list became longer as time went on. I was beginning to enjoy those ‘alone’ times, and I was no longer feeling lonely! God was teaching me to channel my inactivity into creative activity.
My most treasured ‘alone moments’ are times I spend with God.
I use these times to pray, sing, and read the Bible. From a very young age my mother had taught me to pray aloud. Sometimes I kneel, other times I sit at the table or walk around the house and pray aloud. As I do this, I feel that God is right there (and He is!). I have a ‘Remembrancer’ – a list to remind me who and what to pray for. I tick off the list when prayers are answered, and I put PTL (Praise The Lord) against the item. Music has always played a big part in my life and I try to bring this into my personal worship time. I sit at the piano and I play and sing to the Lord. This lifts up my spirit and it helps me enjoy His Presence in a very special way. Sometimes when my husband is around he joins me in a duet – me on the piano and he on the harmonica. I’m sure God enjoys our music. And there’s nothing better than quiet moments when you can read and study the Bible with no distractions of any kind. I enjoy reading aloud. This helps me to remember what I read better. I treasure these ‘alone moments’ for they help to draw me close to God and strengthen my faith in Him.
Again my friend asked, “you are married now – do you still feel lonely sometimes?” Well, that’s a good question.
To answer that, let me go back to Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” I believe when God created Eve for Adam, the first thing He had in mind was Companionship, so Adam wouldn’t be lonely.
That doesn’t mean that in marriage husband and wife must be together all the time. Both parties still have their own lives to live, work to attend to, deadlines to meet, etc. But besides all that, you can have wonderful times together – enjoy meals together, watch a movie, go for walks, shopping, travel and a host of other things you can do together. This kind of companionship you can enjoy with each other must never be compromised for other things.
Sometimes you don’t even have to be doing things together all the time. I can enjoy a quiet evening doing my own things around the house while my husband can be on the computer or watching an action movie which I don’t enjoy. Just to know that he is around is good enough for me! Yes, sometimes I can feel lonely if he is out all day or he is attending a conference out of town. But I always plan things I can do when he us out, so I don’t wallow in loneliness. I remind myself that I am lonely when I spend too much time looking at myself, or I am aimless and have nothing to do.
In his book “Loneliness is not a disease”, Tim Timmons suggests that loneliness is not a disease, it’s a decision. I can decide what to do when I am alone. I’m so thankful God showed me how to handle this issue of being alone. And I must never forget – I am never alone…God is with me always and His Presence fills me with love, joy and peace. What better companionship could I ask for? END
Ai Hiong is a retired teacher and christian Education worker in the Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore. She now lives in Perth with her husband Sim Tong Seng. She has just published her memoirs “Saved to Serve”.