BLESSING IN SOLITUDE (BY GUEST RAMONA RICHARDS)
I live alone and have for many years. I’ve been single for more than 27 years, but I shared my home with my daughter (and the nurses who cared for her) until 2010, when she moved in with her primary caregiver. So this year marks the tenth year of living alone, and I am choosing to celebrate.
The truth is I enjoy being alone. I always have. Even as a child I spent a great deal of time alone, making up games and stories to entertain myself. A walk through the woods near my home became an adventure down “Dog Wood Trail”—named not for the blossoming trees but for the dogs that wandered on the trail. The woods were full of robbers and Robin Hoods, pirates and WWII soldiers. I became Amelia Earhart as I straddled a telephone cable reel my father had left in the backyard that I made into a Lockheed Electra airplane. A circus tightrope performer as I took a precarious walk along a retaining wall behind our house. A “mom” as I decked out in one of my mother’s old dresses and a pair of high-heeled shoes. Our unsuspecting and patient cats also found themselves dressed up in doll clothes on occasion. Is it any wonder I became a writer?
These days my flights of fancy are a little more grounded and acted out on a page. Hours of solitude provide time for me to think, plot, conjure, and pray. I prance to loud music as I clean and work out the snarls in my books. The advantages of being single and living alone are numerous, and I cherish them all. Yet I shall never forget how I got here. I live alone because my marriage failed and my daughter has now passed away. Although I dated after my divorce, I never met a man who was willing to take on a caregiving role involved with a special needs child. (I know they are out there; I just never met one.) Maintaining a household alone created financial hardships and prompted less than wise career choices. I’ve been laid off, and I’ve been fired. I lost my house and was forced to go through bankruptcy. I have lingering health issues because I went through a period with no health insurance, causing several medical conditions to go undiagnosed and untreated.
Yet … still … even when I got down to $1.87 in my checking account, I knew God was with me. I witnessed the evidence of it almost every day. His provision astonished me on an ongoing basis. Not in abundance, but always just what I needed, when I needed it. That is as true today as it has been over the past 60 years. “Your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21 ESV).
Once someone asked me if I blamed God for all the trials in my life, even for my daughter’s condition. I’m sure I must have had a stunned look on my face as I was quick to exclaim, “Are you joking? Have you seen all the incredible things He’s done for us? Have you seen the people He’s brought into our lives to help us?” Living in solitude has taught me exactly how remarkable, how incredible our God is, and how much we can rely on Him. That lesson comes with an unending blessing. I don’t mean to imply things are sunny and rosy all the time. Anyone who has walked a journey of faith for any length of time knows the path is never, ever smooth. Pitfalls happen as they do with anyone. Sadness creeps in. Times of difficulty muffle His voice. Dark times bordering on depression seep through. I get angry. Still, through it all, God’s promises come to my mind. Songs of praise fill my heart. “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel” (Psalm 73:23-24 ESV).
Today I have the advantage of looking back over more than 60 years of ups and downs and experiencing the fulfillment of His promises. Being alone is just this current stage of my life. Change may come but only God knows the future. Until then, I am content in my solitude and continually blessed by His presence.
The author of eleven books, Ramona Richards has worked on staff or as a freelance writer for more than a dozen publishers and has edited more than 500 publications. Ramona has won awards for both her fiction and non-fiction, and is now associate publisher at Iron Stream Media. Ramona is a frequent speaker at church events and writers’ conferences around the country. She lives in the Birmingham, Alabama area.