Admitting We’re Lonely: the unknown shape of friendship

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There’s a difficult truth I’ve been trying to swallow lately, and it is that this past year has been really difficult for friendships and relationships.

Community certainly looks different in each season of life, but when the days are long and I can’t think of a friend to call when I need an extra hand–

well, that’s a tough reality.

It’s certainly not that there’s no one to love us, it’s just about the manifestation and availability of that love.

In this city, I’ve met a handful of women who live just out of reach– an hour is a long drive when you have two toddlers in the back seat.

It’s odd for me to feel alone, because I’m one of those persistent types who doesn’t mind asking again and again for a coffee date with a friend or for some help with my boys.

So I admit how tired I am,

I admit that this season has been hard,

I admit that I’d like a friend to bring me a vanilla latte and help me scrub my kitchen floor,

and I’d like to do the same at their place,

because that’s what friendship has always meant to me.

It’s hard to have to re-define things, to have to lose things and grieve for things–

I’m still grieving for past friendships, still wishing I could have a piece of that community and this community, but that’s not how life flows.

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Shauna Niequist says it like this:

“I believe that faith is less like following a GPS through a precise grid of city blocks, and more like being out at sea: a tricky journey, nonlinear and winding, the wind kicking up and then stalling.” 

My friend Dawn is releasing a book about friendship this month, and if you find yourself where I am– or anywhere else for that matter– you could use the kinds of stories that are found there.

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It did exactly what it needed to, and from the moment I opened to the first page, I began the hard task of looking and being honest about where I find myself right now, what I feel when it comes to the people who make up our family here in the city.

So I read and I wonder and I do all that’s left– what should have been done first–

I pray.

I pray for someone who’s on the other side of this who can help me,

or someone who is daily in this kind of experience, this

particular kind of loneliness and can understand.

An online friend told me about an app that lets me talk with friends far away with a walkie-talkie, a message there and a message back, whenever we can make time to do it.

And suddenly I realized what void it filled.

Suddenly I realized that God was giving me an outlet, a place to process out loud with a friend in another state, a chance to ask for prayer, to speak words out loud, to gain understanding.

The tension broke on Sunday morning when I told our little community that I am lonely, and they responded just as I thought they would, with a deep and sincere love, the kind that the young church tried to live by.

It is not that my life is void of friendship.

It is that friendship is an unknown shape to me, and suddenly I’m asking to find out what that shape is, exactly.

It’s a walkie-talkie button and a picture.

It’s a quote journal and a card.

It’s telling the people who love you most that you need them,

that you are feeling the things you’re feeling.

It’s a playdate any chance we can get one,

and it’s refusing to let go of the memory of community,

refusing to let go of the dreams of future communities that will

surely come for me one day.

When we say out loud that we’re lonely,

someone will hear,

and that other lonely person will say, “me, too,”

and maybe if truth spreads out

far enough,

that unknown shape will become the shape of

bodies and souls enshrouding each other in

safety

and

comfort

and

help.

Just maybe.

 

 

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