It’s a tired that runs deep, like a long aching river.
I’m at a camp tucked deep in Saskatchewan, Canada, surrounded by grass and lakes, with a room full of Free Methodist women, and I’ve just finished telling them about The Lulu Tree.
The moon is out and so is the coffee cake. I carry myself up the stairs of this women’s retreat desperate to be alone.
“Can I Father, or is there someone you want me to talk to?” I say in a whisper, sock feet on the carpet. I could see the door to my room, the quilt on my bed.
Then, “Where are you going?” she asks. Her name-tag says Cathy.
“You goin’ to bed? You should come downstairs. We always play games and eat snacks after the final session,” says this woman with the brown hair and red lipstick.
“Okay, yeah, maybe, thanks,” I say.
She disappears down the stairs and I reluctantly follow.
I’m an introvert. I can spend about two hours straight with people because when I’m with people, I’m WITH them—praying for them, crying with them, and I love to do this—but then I need a good long walk.
But long walks don’t happen at conferences, and God is beckoning. Someone’s heart is sending out an SOS and God is sending tired old me.
Her name is Shieron. She’s an older woman in her sixties from Antigua, with a cane and a captivating smile. Slim glasses and tired eyes.
We visit all evening—me learning about her heart for lost children, her struggle with infertility, God giving her foster children and her learning to laugh again like the Sarah of Genesis. My friend, leaning on her cane, the world passing by with coffee and crumbs on china plates.
I go to bed still not sure I met the one God sent me to meet. All I know is, I really like Shieron.
The next day, I speak once more to the room full of pastors’ wives and daughters. Then I begin to pack up and I see Shieron sitting there, cane at her side, tears in her eyes. She pats the chair beside her.
“I want to thank you,” she says in a raspy voice. “Because, well, you saw me. Last night, you saw me.”
“I know this sounds silly but, well, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten very aware of my skin color, especially when I’m the only black one in a room.”
She continues, hesitating. “I just feel so alone, all the time. And last night, I don’t know—I just didn’t know if I belonged. And then you stopped, and you talked to me, and I knew it was very intentional. And I wanted to thank you. I went to bed and for the first time in a long time, and I heard God speaking to me too. He hasn’t stopped since. And I know it’s because you took the time to talk to me.”
Did you catch that church?
A simple conversation on earth opened up a greater conversation in Heaven.
This is huge.
By us just stopping and saying hello, we can invite a love-starved spirit to reignite a conversation with God.
And this is why loneliness is the greatest poverty of all. Because it isn’t quantifiable, it’s not visible, and it’s connected directly with the spirit.
Physical poverty is measurably conquerable—we can work with small-scale farmers and pastors to equip communities with strategic plans.
But the poverty of the west is a poverty of the soul.
Churches, I beseech you—on behalf of someone who felt unseen when SHE was young—look up from your phones and witness the beauty of Christ in one another’s faces!
For we are all made in God’s image, and all it takes is a smile to make someone believe again.