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The Lonely Lady This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Last Tuesday, we set a record at lunch: how many girls can sit at a round table. Eleven was our number. Me, Miranda, Jenna, Ellie, Molly, Laurel, Anne, Meg, Emma, Nicole, and Sam. I’m pretty sure it’s never been done before because it’s practically impossible. We were all squeezed in as close as we could manage. Everyone had friends at the table and no one wanted to venture off and start a new table. So there we were, eleven girls at one table.

There were three conversations going at once. I took time to listen in on each one, but I didn’t contribute anything to either of them. They talked about music and church and the latest Lit assignment; laughter was flying across the table and smiles covered most faces. It was enough to make other tables to look over and envy us. In those moments, it seemed like we were meant to be there, like we had always known each other. Like we were our own lunch table gang, or something. When really we were eleven girls, all from different places, joined together here by coincidence.

Today at church, I was supposed to save a seat for a friend. I grabbed a coffee and found a seat in the middle of the center section. But before I could claim dibs for a seat next to me, people filed into my isle from both left and right. I was stuck. A mid-aged, overweight woman sat on my right, a pair of college frat boys on my left. So much for saving a seat.

As the band started up and worship began, I convinced myself I would explain to my friend later and everything would be okay. But it wasn’t. This was the first time I sat at church next to people I didn’t know. Usually I sat with my parents or a friend or by myself, seats empty beside me.

I noticed through the hour how the lady to my right nodded along to everything the pastor said. The guy to my right seemed like his friend had drug him there; he didn’t singing along with the music and sat with his arms crossed for almost the entire time. And me? I just sat in the middle, unsure what to do or how to act. I was stuck in the middle of something I didn’t know.

Regardless of which of these two situations I was in, the feeling I experienced was the same: loneliness. Lonely at the lunch table with the crowd of girls all in meaningless conversations. Lonely at church between two people I didn’t know. Lonely because those were not moments when I felt satisfied. Those were not moments that I was filled with eternal happiness or a lasting hope. Those were moments when I felt a lack of God’s presence. He was there, but I didn’t see him. When I had nothing to say at lunch, when I had no idea how to act at church, I felt abandoned. I felt lonely.

The irony in this story is that I feel most lonely when I am surrounded by people. I stay silent and listen to other people and think to myself. Even more ironic, though, is that when I’m in my room and I have worship music playing on my stereo and I’m reading my Bible or journaling to God or just studying my devotional, that is a moment I feel God’s presence. That is a moment when I am filled with God’s love for me and I have a hope that will never end and I can finally spread a smile on my own face. When I’m alone, that’s when I feel complete.

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