Loneliness Has A Lesson For You

In the loneliness of life there is a strange invitation: To stand naked and alone, and know that you are enough.

In the safety of friends, in the cradle of community, we can draw comfort from our lovely qualities. I’m so friendly. I’m so helpful. I’m so entertaining. I’m so creative. I’m so self sacrificing. I’m so wise. Therefore I am a good and lovely person. But when we are lonely, we stand stark and uncomfortable in the dreadful sense of our own Being, distinct and separate from all the other beings; then, there, in the spotlight of our own strangeness, if we have the radical courage, we can know that we are complete.

That’s something different.

Somehow we can’t get to that strange place of individual essential worth until we sense that we are alone.

This isn’t the selfish, stiff-necked, individualistic way of being “Complete” that is so common in Western society. This isn’t the, “F- that. I don’t need nobody!” seething self-containment. This is the way of being whole which knows that it is really part of a bigger story. “Here I am. Created by God. One wee thread in the tapestry. United to you. Pieced together in a story. Luminous and meaningful just as I am, because he loves me. Enough.”

Loneliness corrupted makes us want to curl into a ball of shriveling self-worth. “Nobody loves me; I am unloveable.” and “I don’t know my place in the world, so I don’t have a place anywhere.”

Loneliness redeemed invites us to stand up, lift our eyes “to the hills from whence our help comes”, and know the strength of being essential as we are. Beautiful because we we are created in love.

Loneliness corrupted makes us say, “No one loves me. I will withdraw.”

Loneliness redeemed says, “I am loved alone. Unvarnished. Endlessly. So I can love unlimited.”

Loneliness corrupted drives us deeper into ourselves and away from others.

Loneliness redeemed drives us deeper into ourselves, and we find something universal there. A shared value. A shared bewilderment. A shared hope. And low and behold we find ourselves able to connect to the great big family of humanity after all… giving from a more firmly rooted place of being loved incorruptibly.

I think loneliness finds us all at some point in time. Introverts, extroverts, ambiverts. City mice and country mice. But when loneliness finds you, I hope you find love. Your truest identity.


Sundays Make Me Cray

Big groups make me feel lonely. There are faces and voices and hugs and hand squeezes and tiny brownies and coffee cups and communion. Lots of it. It’s lovely. It’s just enough to make you long to really know and to be known. Suddenly, you know you’re not alone, and you want to feel certain about your place in the beautiful human tribe around you. Where do I fit in here?

A big group around you suggests, “You might have a place here…” But then doesn’t tell you what it is. There are too many. There is not enough time. There is a schedule. Everything is a skim over the surface. A bevy of moving bodies, swirling in and out like tide eddies. And I feel my “Other-ness” keenly. We are not one. We are all so many individuals. We are all a bit isolated in our own skin. What a muddle!

I know this most personal of experiences in my own head is common to many people. The Lonely Hearts Club has full membership. And yet somehow we still struggle to find our places.

Longing to be known and understood is probably what makes us the strangest of the animals. We could have just been a herd, or a flock, or a school. But no! We had to complicate things. We had to be wistful. We had to be lonely. We had to fumble for meaning. We had to be wonderers and wanderers and weirdos.

So we stand in crowded rooms and feel desperately alone.

What gives?!

I feel most at home behind a book, while writing, or wrapped deeply in a one-on-one conversation. Or when you give me a specific task. Like painting your kitchen! (Thanks Sarah.)

Perhaps there are clues hidden in our natural inclinations about how to be rooted and grounded in a sense of place and purpose? Perhaps what feels like home to us really is home? Can we discern our truest place in the world by looking at the satisfactions and safety zones of our own hearts? Should we be focusing on faithfulness to our natural strengths and inner patterns? Or should we be stretching ourselves to new lengths and breadths? Either way, somehow this only seems to orient us to ourselves. There is something else needed to orient us in our communities. And I haven’t found it yet.

I feel utterly disoriented at the moment. Homeless in my own skin and uncertain of where to turn. Things seem too big and too small. People seem too many and too few. If someone would love me and need me and want to be my friend, I could respond well. They could press me into a shape. I could conform. I could know my place.

This is the definition of co-dependency isn’t it?

Yeah probably.

Everything is confusing. I don’t know where to put my hands.


Sunday Mornings are A Lot