“The world feels lonely right now,” she says to me plainly. There aren’t any tears but she slouches, body casually sprawled over the armchair. I can tell by the way she shrugs that she doesn’t expect me to answer, it’s just that she needs somebody to witness the state of her life.
Witness. As in, “Will you vouch for the fact that I’m still breathing? Because I feel invisible…”
My beautiful friend—talented and kind, gainfully employed, volunteer extraordinaire—lonely. If it can happen to her, it can happen to anybody…
I’ve been on a campaign these past few months…a listening one. Instead of rushing through my routine, I’ve lingered those few extra minutes, relishing the connection of warm souls holding still long enough to notice one another. In the check out line. At the gym. At my kids’ school. You name the locale, and I’ve aimed for presence. I wasn’t great at the start, realizing this introvert had gotten rusty. A few awkward introductions and a couple of smiles later though, and I was back in the game.
For some women, it’s uncomfortable—an adjustment to receive a person’s whole and undivided attention. As far as the eye contact and unguarded body language goes, our society seems to practice less and less of the art forms with each passing year. For other women, the floodgates burst open, wide and grateful to share. So I ask questions, and I listen:
To the shut in healing from surgery.
To a friend who clocks in, day after day, but can't tell you the son’s name of the woman working next to her.
To the mom who just moved here, only to discover that she lives in a cul-de-sac ghost town.
To the one who’s been overcommitted for a long time and wonders what happened to her friends.
To a friend whose husband barely allows her to leave the house.
To the one who’s been depressed for so long that she describes it as a mainstay personality trait.
And while I could pretend that I can’t relate to a single one of them, I’d be lying. Because in every woman, I see a piece of me. And in every woman, I see the glory of God’s image. This time it was loneliness that revealed itself as our common thread of humanity. My armchair friend was the only one willing, or maybe even able, to articulate it.
The body isn't built for isolation. Not a woman's. Not the church.
God Himself convenes as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—three in One. Made in His image, we can’t survive alone (not even with the help of social media). Lonely people experience higher levels of pain than those in healthy relationships. We’re also at higher risk of heart disease, stoke, mental illness, and self-centeredness. Many of us are familiar with these findings, and yet, in our generation:
We’re still less likely to marry than ever before…
Race relations are hostile and divisive…
As a culture, we have higher numbers of casual partners and break ups than ever before…
We’re more prone to relocating…
We’re less likely to have children than generations before…
And we’re more likely to view others’ lives as appealing based on social media…
But trends are just trends. We have choices.
We don't have to buy the lives being sold by our culture, because
God makes the rules and we are the culture.
We can be the first to reach out instead of waiting for somebody to extend an invitation. We can choose face-to-face over tech. We can revel in friendships of all varieties. We can live healed, love-brimming-over lives.
We can't wait for life to "happen" to us and still experience the full joy of God's plans.
Get back in the game this week, internet kin! Reach out. Step out. Make a move. My months have been better for it and I know yours will be too.
With you and for you,
What matters to you? For what reasons will you gather with others? Service? Friendship? Church? Neighborhood unity? A social issue? Tell us all about it below.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
Here’s a little something you didn’t see on the news. In Durham, NC, a KKK rally was scheduled for August 18th. With a heat index of 106 degrees, this was how citizens spent their time gathered together and filling the streets. Turns out, the group never showed...
What does this imagery speak to you? We'd love to hear about it.
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Video Credit: @BronwenDickey
Photo Credit: Mohamed Nohassi
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.