An Eleanor Rigby Kind of Life

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?
(Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles)

There are so many tragedies just waiting to happen. Most of them do. Every single day there is news of heartbreak and loss. Of families who wait for the one who will never come home again.

If accidents and evil people weren’t enough, there is always a hodgepodge of sickness and human frailty looking to claim another victim.

Heart Disease
Cancer
Diabetes
There are not enough pages to list all the possible and potential life altering, life ending medical conditions.

It’s a crapshoot and all of those things are sickening when they become our reality.

Personally, I am worn out by heartache, worry, and fear. I am so weary of the constant sense of impending doom. Of wondering what’s next…

But, I digress.

In a world of broken hearts, lives, and dreams, I think there is a greater calamity. I didn’t see it for much of my life. I certainly didn’t understand it. And if the truth be told, I didn’t want to…

If it was painful then; it is doubly, triply painful now.
It’s a condition that happens as a result of brokenness.
It is often hidden behind a slick mask of happiness, a false bravado, or a facade of joy.

It is called loneliness.

But even using that word connotes something that, while hurtful and undesirable, is just a situation you have to get used to or worse, find an answer for… (i.e., fix it!)

And the advice often given?
Get out of yourself…
Make a new friend…
Find a new activity…
Blah, Blah, Blah…

All of that is well and good, but it fails to answer the root cause of loneliness–it makes the lonely seem somehow week for being lonely in the first place. It completely misses, disregards, or denies the loneliness of loss, hurt, pain, and the perceived absence of God.

And that my friends is the loneliest place on earth…

Loneliness, the great calamity? Absolutely. You betcha. Yes, sir, don’t say maybe…
And that’s often found within the church–of any denomination or stripe. Can you imagine how lonely the lonely are without even a church family to call on?

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup
And ride that highway in the sky

This is for all the single people
Thinking that love has left them dry
Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup
You never know until you try

Well, I’m on my way yes, I’m back to stay
Well, I’m on my way back home, hit it

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup
And never take you down or never give you up
You never know until you try
(Lonely People–America)

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11 thoughts on “An Eleanor Rigby Kind of Life

  1. “Get out of yourself” was one of the lines that was used on people in my Crossroads Movement church. Shyness was considered a sin. “Getting out of yourself”, though, is a lot harder for some people than it is for others.

    Several years later, I told a small group that I didn’t feel like I fit in because I:

    1. wasn’t raised in the Church of Christ
    2. didn’t have any connections with our church’s preschool (never worked there, never had a kid who went there)
    3. didn’t have any connections with a large private school that most of the members were connected with (went there, had a kid that went there, worked there)
    4. didn’t have any connections with Abilene, Harding, Lipscomb or Pepperdine, where most of the members either went to school or had/have kids that went there
    5. didn’t work with our recovery ministry.

    The vast majority of our members fall into one of those five categories.

    When I said this to our small group, I was advised to, “find a ministry and get involved in it”.

    Okay, that’s fine . . . but that doesn’t really address my feelings of alienation and loneliness that I have at times.

  2. “find a ministry and get involved in it”….what a copout. The body of Christ is supposed to be a family, not a corporation. LIFE is supposed to be ministry, not just the official ministries of the church. Too often I think we treat each other like coworkers and not family in the church. And it’s wrong.

    • Well, I did volunteer to do the laundry for the baptistry (towels, robes, etc.) A good thing to do. 🙂 We have several people doing that on a rotating basis. I seem to work better in “behind the scenes” ministry–the stuff no one notices but that, if it doesn’t get done, everyone knows about it.

      I love my church. At the same time, there are times I feel on the outside because I don’t fit into any of the groups I mentioned above. My son has autism. We can’t afford to send him to the large private school, and they would not be appropriate for meeting his needs anyway. The odds are that he will not go to college, let alone the ones I mentioned in my post. He probably will not marry and have children. That’s another area I feel alienated in–many of my friends are having grandbabies, and although I’m happy for them, sometimes it’s painful because I probably will never know how it feels to have a grandchild.

  3. “Can you imagine how lonely the lonely are without even a church family to call on?”

    Sadly church compounds the issue by adding a sense of rejection into the mix.

  4. I can also empathise, specially with Tina :

    I also was not raised in the Church of Christ.
    But My kid did go to Church of Christ Sunday school.
    And I belong to a very good group of people, who are very much my “family”, (because my kid lives on another continent – as do the rest of my family!) – but even so, in amongst that I do get periods of loneliness – even whilst sat in the same room as my “family”.
    I don’t have any grandchildren of my own, but I have borrowed my friends 4 little girls, and they are the most precious things in my life, and help me to feel part of the “family”.
    Loneliness is a complicated issue. I can be alone for much of the time and not be lonely. But it is possible to be with the “family” and still be lonely.
    I am blessed in that my loneliness is not exacerbated by grief, stress, illness etc.
    I can only pray for those who do.

  5. This really hit home with me. A year has passed since I lost my husband and loneliness is what I feel a lot of the time. Once you get a handle on the utter sadness and brokenness of it all, your left with the loneliness. And your right, everyone has an idea on how you can “fix” it. I don’t know what the answer is to be able to “fix” the feelings of loneliness you have when you’ve shared a life with someone for over 20 years. When the person you are used to going to with all your news, your worries, your affection and love is gone. I have wonderful people in my life but it will probably be awhile before I stop feeling lonely.

    • I can relate a bit Amy. When my first wife (of 23 years) passed away folks would ask me if I was “lonely”. That word simply did not agree with how I felt. I felt “alone”. It was like half of me way ripped away and was missing.

      The thing that helped me the most was the thing that I wanted to do the least. After much resistance I humbled myself and joined a grief group. I found so much solace and encouragement in the midst of people who were experiencing so much pain. Yet somehow the group helped me to begin to live again and look back without the overwhelming pain.

      Not suggesting that you need to do something similar. Just wanting to share my experience and join you in hoping for a future filled with happiness.

      Many blessings, Bob

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