Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Home Alone

Some 19 years ago the family movie “Home Alone” became an instant hit during the holiday season. If you recall, the film is about a precocious eight-year-old boy named Kevin McCallister played by Macaulay Culkin. Kevin is accidentally left home alone while his family, late for their flight, madly rushes off to Paris for the Christmas holidays. The fun of the movie is watching little Kevin use clever booby traps against two bungling burglars who are trying to break into his home.

For the past three years I have given talks on Monday nights in the basement of my church before we break up into recovery and support groups. The ministry is called Monday Night LIGHT. Last Monday I began a short series on the issue of “loneliness” and decided to use the opening scene of Home Alone to introduce the message. Interestingly, I pointed out to the group that Kevin was already “home alone” even when the house was full of people. As Kevin was clearly alienated from his siblings and his parents it reminded me that loneliness is not about being physically alone but rather it is a condition of the soul.

This loneliness is something we inherited spiritually from our great grandparents Adam and Eve who chose to assert their own will above God’s and disobey His command. In the process they became alienated from God, from each other and the mortal time clock began to click towards their eventual return to the dust. They became the first couple to be “home alone” and we have been living out that lonely curse ever since.

As a man I know I have looked much too primarily to my wife and secondarily to my children to fill the void of my loneliness. Our families give us the closest thing to experiencing heaven on earth I think is possible. On the other hand when family relationships turn sour they can produce a kind of loneliness that is clearly unmatched on this earth. Even the best of marriages are ultimately destined to end through the death of one partner. Children grow up too quickly leaving the home empty and void of their chatter and laughter. So, for a man, what a wife and children provide is even at its best insufficient and temporary to fill the void of our loneliness.

This is where the idea of accepting being home alone becomes helpful to me. If I don’t really believe this, I will continue to foolishly see my wife and children as sources to fill a loneliness hole only God can ultimately fill. I become demanding upon them to give to me what they are not able to give. The more I demand the more I can drive them away and the lonelier and frustrated I will become.

Unlike Kevin in the movie, my greatest enemy is not a couple of bungling burglars wanting to come into my home but rather one fully competent thief who is already there—myself. To be specific it is the “old me” who wants his selfish needs met first who is my greatest threat. I am slowly learning to turn away from this seemingly very much alive me whom the Bible says actually died with Christ. I am also seeking to increasingly look to my Savior to meet my deepest longings. He is the one who frees me to begin to see my wife and children as gifts He has entrusted to me to love and treasure. I will see family life as part of the journey and not a final destination.

When I begin to do this, I can bring a greater sense of the Savior’s presence into our home. Home alone? Though I really do love my wife and kids it helps to realize that ultimately I am. Also, when I don’t try to fix my loneliness through my family members but just seek to love and serve the–then being home alone doesn’t feel so…. lonely.

Not Really “Home” Yet,


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Anonymous said...

Yes! I can relate. I find much of the source of my anger at home is from my disappointment in my wife or my children. If I don't put impossible expectations upon them then they can't disappoint. I can be more accepting and supportive.

Anonymous said...

Jamie, you have written many a good and thought provoking article but this is by far one of your best. I just recently brought temporsry "death" to my wife though one of selfish bonehead moves. Thank goodness for God's grace and thank you for your article.