I was talking with a friend the other day and the conversation turned to loneliness. It was the subject that bubbled to the top as we visited, in person, face-to-face (socially distanced), and sipped coffee.
It caught my attention in a surprising way. I’m realizing that I rarely experience or talk about personal loneliness, (I have an extroverted personality and a pretty large family) but it has been a dominant feeling in me lately.
No real surprise, right? Just about everyone on the planet is feeling it at some level – I’m just late to the game, it’s just now sinking into my soul.
For months now I end up spending much of my days alone and that is not how I’m wired.
But here’s what I’m also noticing – it’s pushing me inward, upward and outward.
Inward: I’m trying to be honest with myself about how I feel. I’m strongly bent toward the positive. But the weight of these last five months, on top of several other big things in my life, is leading me, encouraging me (and sometimes dragging me) to new places inwardly – unfamiliar and, if I’m honest, unwanted places.
Upward: Being in these places and beginning to realize that I can’t do much about any of it myself pushes me upward. I pray more. I pray more frequently and fervently. I spend more time and attention with Jesus. I listen better to his Word – not because I’m more spiritual but because I’m more desperate.
And when I step back and look, I realize that upward is a really good direction.
Outward: It then help me to realize more how much I need and value people, being with people, in their physical presence. (We all know about Zoom fatigue.)
Being with my friend – talking, laughing, connecting, processing out loud – helps motivate me to get out my calendar and phone and schedule time with people – for my soul and for theirs.
Can you relate in any way? I’d offer you these questions to help you reflect a little.
- What are you newly or more intensely aware of inwardly?
- How does this wild season affect you upwardly? Do you find yourself more engaged with God or less? The answer you give feels like the seed of a good conversation between you and Him.
- What can you do outwardly, towards others, to connect with and care for them, but also for you? Maybe start with your calendar.
May God grant us the grace to see and experience more of Him in this season.