Theme : Loneliness and Isolation

Without any doubt the single parents greatest struggle is with a deep sense of aloneness and the nagging ache of loneliness that seems to haunt us. This was powerfully underlined when David and I first asked for the members of Ancient Faith Single Parents group on Facebook to vote on themes we might address here on the Living Water blog. Loneliness along with feeling alone and isolated received the most votes of any topic.

All of us single parents recognize that we aren’t the only category of church folk to experience this…teens, young adults, the only Orthodox person in a family, parents of disabled children, individuals struggling with disabilities themselves, and of course monastics and single priests mightily struggle with this burden. And that’s not to mention the unique and terrible loneliness of feeling lost and abandoned while still in a marriage, something many of us have felt at one time or another.

A uniquely strong sense of aloneness

And yet, the empty bed beside us and no parent to meet our eyes when one of the children does something amazing, is an ongoing and often excruciatingly painful reality for us. 

Along with this is the unending grief of all the small and large moments of togetherness forever lost to us. A special family dinner just isn’t the same with only mom at the table with the kids. Many of us single parents have fed our children Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners on our own for instance, or thrown birthday or Saints names celebrations as the only adult present.  Attending services with or without our children are ongoing reminders that we don’t have the counterpart we’d hoped for at our side—to pray with, to argue with on the way, to hand over a child to or to just squeeze a hand. 

Alone-time for single parents

Which brings us to another excruciating loneliness—when our children are with the other parent. Many of us have had two-parent moms and dads tell us they envy our alone-time, that there is a blessing in counting on having a quiet house from time to time. But this isn’t what we prayed for, fought for, begged God for when our marriage or relationship was failing!

The excruciating aloneness of an empty house that we’d thought would always be filled with the sounds of laughter or screaming or the pounding of feet is mirrored by the aloneness that occurs when us alone-parents (single parents without a safe-co-parent or family nearby) who are never given the luxury of taking a break. These parents raising their children completely on their own (by choice or by necessity) have long forgotten the sound of silence and the comfort of an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Here are some specific prayers for our aching loneliness and aloneness

A single parent longs for someone to go to coffee with or just to be invited to lunch from time to time…even if she doesn’t have time or a sitter to call and can’t make it work!

A single parent is asking that our church family pray for his longing to have a partner, to experience the Sacrament of Marriage with someone.

A single parent is praying that this loneliness doesn’t swamp her or tempt him to go back to the spouse that was so abusive and dangerous to the children.

A single parent is worried that he won’t be able to stay celibate. He’s never battled something this overwhelming all on his own before.

A single parent worries that her son won’t know what a “good man” is like… If she hasn’t been able to find a safe man how can she help her son know how to be a good, godly man? And likewise a single parent worries how he’ll show his son what a good, kind, gentle and strong woman is like when his own relationships with women haven’t been good or strong, kind or gentle. 

Prayers of Consolation for Loneliness, Heartache and Alone-ness

Kontakion in Tone III for Saint Xenia 

A wandering stranger on earth ever sighing for the heavenly homeland, you were considered a fool by the senseless and unbelieving, but were known to be wise and holy by the faithful. God crowned you with glory and honor, O Ksenia, strong minded and divinely wise. Therefore, we cry to you: Rejoice, for after earthly wandering you have come to dwell in the Father’s house.

From the Akathist to Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco and from the book Lantern of Grace (contributed, when requested for this theme, by Bishop James Corazza of Old Holy Virgin Cathedral San Francisco CA):

As thou wast a merciful nurturer of orphans and skilled instructor on earth, be thou now a guide and Christian understanding for us amid the turmoil of the Church; hearten to the groaning of the troubled youth of our corrupt times, who are tempest-tossed by most wicked demonic possession, and mercifully regard the despondency of our weak pastors, caused by the inroads of the corrupting spirit of this world, and who languish in idle indifference. Hasten throw to make supplication, we cry to these with tears, O fervent advocate; visit us who are orphaned, scattered over the face of all the world and in our homeland, astray in the darkness of the passions, yet who by our feeble love are drawn to the light of Christ and await they fatherly instruction; that having acquired piety, we may be shown to be heirs of the kingdom of heaven, where thou abides with all the saints, glorifying our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be honor and dominion, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Show us who feel frightened and alone the same compassion that thou didn’t once show to the trembling fatherless ones. Give us who have fallen into sin, confusion and despair the same stern yet loving instruction that thou didst once give to thy chosen flock.

From the Akathist to Blessed Matushka Olga

O blessed Matushka Olga, hear our prayer as we lift our hearts to you, trusting in the power of your ceaseless intercession. Even as you spread the warmth of your maternal love of the souls of the needy, abused and broken, so warm our souls also, healing our pain and bringing us the love of Christ. Through your prayers, may we walk in the paths of peace, please our Lord and glorifying His Name, and so finally fail not to enter into the joy of His eternal Kingdom, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen

From the Lorica by Saint Patrick Enlightener of Ireland

God’s hosts to secure me against snares of devils…against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and a-near, alone or in a crowd. Christ to protect me today.

 

Praises for Comfort, Consolation and Healing

While the grief of all we’ve lost and all we continue to lose, daily, in missed moments of togetherness seems to pop up into our awareness like stubborn whack-a-moles many of us have also experienced powerful moments of grace, healing and consolation around this topic of loneliness. In our next post we will focus on glorifying God for the the consolation and healing we are constantly experiencing!

Please share with us…

Either in the comments below or by writing directly to email hidden; JavaScript is required  We, David and myself as well as our larger church family and other single parents, want to hear what loneliness, alone-ness and isolation feel like to you. What are your cries in the night? What Psalms do you turn to as you struggle to express to God and his saints your emptiness and ache? Are there saints examples that you turn to? Prayers or other quotes that express these nagging realities?? Even if you aren’t a single parent now, how has loneliness effected you? We are here to bear witness and to share with each other the darkness that is becoming light one prayer, one breath, one moment at a time.

About Elise Photini

Elise Photini is raising her “littles” (no longer quite so little) on her own in the Pacific Northwest where she works as a hospice nurse with half her heart, while the other half of her heart floats between writing & speaking on raising resilient, strong children and healing from trauma. See more about Elise Photini with links to her latest projects on ElisePhotini.com.

Theme - Loneliness

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your blog. My heart goes out to the single parents in this world. My eldest son is a single co-parent of my grandchildren, he gets them every other weekend. He has made a decision to stop going to church years ago. God is no long the center of his life (my husband and I prayer for him so often). My husband is clergy in the OCA . My heart also goes out to the elderly in the church and not-churched. The loneliness they often fear. I have the loneliness when going to church and setting by my self, when once in life having to deal with 4 children in church and now non (all adults). Loneness comes in so many different forms, and yet God is right there beside us but our human emotional bent does not let us grasp that. Thank you for your blog and reaching out to other single parents.

    1. Thank you for your love and support Tammy! So often we imagine we are all alone in our loneliness when all around us are others struggling as well. Please keep us and this ministry in your prayers!

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