Title: The Path of Loneliness
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Theme: Finding your way through the wilderness to God
Summary: Elisabeth Elliot is best known for being the wife of martyred missionary Jim Elliot. Her early books chronicled their lives as missionaries, as well as her husband’s early death. Elisabeth was married two more times as well, so she may seem like an unlikely choice for a singles blog.
I admit, at first, I did dismiss what she had to say for that very reason. What does a thrice-married woman really have to say about being lonely? However, when I started reading The Path of Loneliness and discovered that she lived the life of a widow and single mom for twelve years between her first and second marriages, and then her second husband died after only four years of marriage, I realized that she probably knew a lot about being lonely.
If you’ve never read any of Elisabeth Elliot’s books, let me start by telling you that she is always very straightforward in her style. I really like that about her. She tells you what the Bible says and what you’re supposed to be doing based on what the Bible says. There is very little gray area. Her books also reflect a deeply personal relationship with God. Everything she writes stems from that.
In The Path of Loneliness Elisabeth never tries to place blame on God or explain away the pain of loneliness. Instead, she expresses the view that loneliness is a result of the fall, bringing with it great sadness. She even likens loneliness to a wilderness. Her voice is deeply personal throughout the book as she shares her own stories- watching a couple on an airplane and becoming overwhelmed with grief; the long wait while she and her first husband both served as single missionaries; trying to make sense of widowhood; navigating an empty nest, and much more.
This entire book is one of praise to God. Even though Elisabeth writes about His “severe mercy,” she never criticizes or questions His motives. She never laments only getting twenty-seven months of marriage with her first husband after her long, celibate wait. She only offers praise. Her book is filled with Scripture and poems meant to turn the reader’s thoughts to God. Over and over again she emphasizes God’s work in all aspects of her life, no matter how painful.
My Thoughts: This is a beautiful book. I cannot say that enough. I read it during a time of deep sadness and it helped me so much. I saw that everyone battles loneliness in their lives, no matter what stage they are at. My pain and emptiness aren’t sugar-coated or casually dismissed. They are very real
But reading The Path of Loneliness helped me to see that God can be glorified through my emptiness. He wants my pain. He’s willing to take it all and use it to turn me toward Him again and again. Being alone doesn’t have to be sign of a “Life gone wrong”- a life that’s sad and empty. Rather, being alone can become a beautiful thing if it’s used to make us more like Christ.
I’ve referenced back to this book in my last two blog posts because it has so many great truths. It’s been the basis of my writing on loneliness and how God is able to use it. The best thing about The Path of Loneliness is that it offers hope. God is love, He works out our lives in love, and as such He gives HOPE. Elisabeth Elliot reminds her readers of that fact again and again and again.
”There is a future and a plan. There is another reality. This is what is Pricilla’s hope. It is what makes her see things so differently from those who would advise a different course… God honors and obedient faith. He too walked in this lonesome valley.”
“Waiting on God is an act of faith- the greatest thing ever required of us as humans. It is resting in perfect confidence that He will guide in the right way, at the right time. He will supply our need. He will fulfill his word. He will give us the very best if we trust Him.”
“Turn your loneliness into solitude, and your solitude into prayer.”