I think it's safe to say that I'm in a funk. Like a stay in my PJ's, watch every episode of Grey's Anatomy, let my kids "fend for themselves" as my house turns into a disaster site, kind of funk. I've been trying to muster up the energy and creative prowess to write a blog post for the last several days but each time I sit down to start, an overwhelming sense of dread paralyzes me and I turn my attention to something else. I've been thinking (or trying not to think) about the underlying cause of this funk and I'm pretty sure I've narrowed it down to the nasty culprit...lack of connection.
Now that I have created a little bit of space in my life to reflect, think, really pray, listen and observe, I can't help but notice a sense of loneliness. A disconnect from the person I want to be, the people I want to be with and the things in which I want to be involved. I'm quite sure that it has always been there but I've just been too busy and driven to really notice it until now. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely. Even the word itself sounds isolated and pitiful. It makes me want to crawl in bed, hide under the covers and eat an entire gallon of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.
Why is admitting that we are lonely so hard? It's such a vulnerable statement that cuts deep down to the core of our soul. It's not that I am physically alone, because honestly I love to be alone. I covet having a few hours to read, write, cook, or nap (the holy grail of being solo). After being around people for hours on end it's nice to not have anyone in my physical space for a while. No, I think being lonely comes from a deeper place, a place where I can be completely surrounded by people but don't feel as if I truly belong. That's it. That's the word. Belong. Belong. Belong. That word feels the exact opposite of lonely. Where loneliness makes me want to hide and eat ice cream, belonging makes me want to cook a big pot of chili surrounded by friends and family next to a crackling fire with beloved Christmas carols playing in the background. It's warm and fuzzy like an old favorite blanket. I want to wrap up in belonging and just sit a while. But it's hard to find, to truly find.
Most of the people in my circle are just like me; caught up in their own worlds full of schedules, "I have to's", and juggling perfection. Too many "we should get together soon's" are said and good intentions never turn into reality. I've watched as time goes by and those relationships slowly deteriorate into a "used to be." And please don't get me wrong, I am just as much to blame (if not more) for this deterioration. I can be a hard person to form and maintain a friendship with, I mean with all my emotional baggage and guarded interactions I don't see how anyone even makes it past the door of acquaintance without tripping over suitcases and getting tangled in the o-fence (haha...see what I did there?).
In her book, Braving the Wilderness, Brene' Brown talks about loneliness and our denial in both coping with and admitting when we feel this emotion. She states, "Hunger is a warning that our blood sugar is low and we need to eat. Thirst warns us that we need to drink to avoid dehydration. Pain alerts us to potential tissue damage. And loneliness tells us that we need social connection...yet we do deny our loneliness."
What is wrong with us? Why can't we just reach out and forge a connection with someone when we are feeling the disconnect? Why can't we tell a trusted friend or relative "I could really use your company right now."? Why is the response to feeling lonely to isolate ourselves even more and self-medicate? That is jacked up.
I know that even if I don't feel that I belong anywhere else that I will always belong to God. In 1 Corinthians 3:23 it says, "And you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God." Pretty cut and dry if you ask me. This knowledge alone should dissipate the stabbing pain from the sword of loneliness, but it doesn't. It does dull the blade and there are brief moments of contentment where I get a glimpse of wholeness, but the overall sense of loneliness is still alive and kicking. I think it's because as amazing as it is to have a relationship with God, he also created us for human interaction and belonging.
Hebrews 10:24-25 states, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." This verse is often used as justification for church membership and/or attendance, but for me it has a deeper meaning...to put effort into being connected in order to create a sense of belonging, not just for myself but for my friends and family as well.
So, instead of giving in to what my natural tendencies beg of me; to hide or drown the vulnerable feeling of loneliness with busyness, I choose to reach out and expose my feelings to others. Who knows, in an effort to quell my loneliness I might just help someone out of theirs, and that possibility provides just enough hope and courage for me to push the "publish post" button on the upper-right hand portion of my screen.