Love Letter to the Lonely

We’ve created a world that says loneliness is our fault, mental illness is either a myth or a problem that we must suffer with or fix quietly, so we don’t disrupt the way of things.

But loneliness is not wrong.

Friend,

I’ve been thinking about you today. I’m thinking about all the ways we get things wrong on this earth, in this country.

I’m thinking about all the different forms oppression can take.

I’m thinking about the reality that we’ve created a social environment in the United States (and in other countries) that doesn’t lend grace and compassion well.

We criticize each other’s weakness. We berate one another’s stories and experiences.

I’m thinking about mental health and self-care. I’m thinking about the work of listening to the needs of the soul.


What does it mean to be lonely?

I’ve heard so many times the phrase “we are lonely, but not alone.”

But it’s okay to feel alone, right?

We’ve created a world that says loneliness is our fault, mental illness is either a myth or a problem that we must suffer with or fix quietly, so we don’t disrupt the way of things.

But loneliness is not wrong.

Depression, anxiety or any host of feelings are not sources of shame, though we shame one another for experiencing them.

We shame one another for going to therapy, for taking medications, for admitting that we are tired. We forget our humanity for a moment. We forget what it looks like to hold one another. We forget that self-care is not laziness.

And we forget that the voice of Love is everything.

And our work right now is to break the chains of shame for ourselves and for one another.


Friend, I want you to know that loneliness is not a sin or human flaw.

It also isn’t just a lie that we believe, because loneliness is real. We see it in ourselves and in others everyday, in every work environment, in every community, on every street corner.

So what if we thought of every space as an opportunity to commune?

What if our digital and physical spaces were considered sacred, just as everyone who inhabits them is sacred?

What if we live in such a way that even our online interactions create space without reducing one anther to labels of weakness or unworthiness?

What if we learn to tell ourselves that we are worthy of love?


Recently in a therapy session, I tried to explain the constant tension I walk as a woman who is Potawatomi and white, Christian but not colonized, American but also indigenous.

I feel like I am never fully one thing or another.

And while it’s lonely, the more I share my story, the more people I find who feel the same way, who are fractured, who are trying to find their footing in a world that doesn’t accept some part of who they are.

Then I remember something.

I remember the stories of Jesus, a man who seemed to be lonely a lot.

He went to quiet places. He had some close friends, but he still struggled.

“Will they ever understand?” he quietly prayed.

“Can this cup be taken away? I’m tired.”


Many of the world’s greatest leaders admit to loneliness. And in those spaces, a lot of soul care is required to remember what it means to be a leader, what it means to carry compassion and empathy as a model for others.

But what about us? What about our daily lives? What about those moments when we are too weary to do the work?

Friend, I want you to know that I’m not expecting anything from you, but to learn to love yourself and then work on the empathy and compassion that fuels you to love the world.

This is not strictly linear work, but cyclical, seasonal, an ebb and flow that doesn’t always make sense.


If you grew up in a religious or social environment that wanted rule following over love of self, you know that even as an adult it’s hard to unlearn those thought and heart patterns. I’m still working, and I bet you are, too.

But it’s possible. And it’s not selfish.

So we re-wire the way we think about ourselves. And over time, we re-wire the way we think of others.

But it doesn’t mean that loneliness isn’t a constant companion. It means that while loneliness is there with us, we are still called.

We still have important things to contribute to our communities, to our families, to the world. We still have good work to do, and that work is connected to resting in the faithfulness of this earth that we get to inhabit.

Maybe the trees can remind us that we are loved and valued.

Maybe the bird on the windowsill or the constant rising and falling tide can tell us that the world wants to continue her work because we are a part of it.

Maybe then, we’re not quite as lonely as we think.

Maybe creation meets us in our loneliness and whispers I'm still here, after all these years. And maybe the fact that we all feel loneliness in a spectrum of ways means that loneliness is universal.

Until then, I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re not so alone, after all, and neither am I.

All my love,

Kait 


Remember, your pain isn’t wrong or a weakness. If you’re lonely and need to talk to someone, there are people available to you.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Call 1-800-273-8255
For LGBTQ:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/lgbtq/
For Youth:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/youth/
For Loss Survivors:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/loss-survivors/
For the Native American community:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/native-americans/
For Veterans:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/veterans/
For Deaf/Hard of Hearing:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/for-deaf-hard-of-hearing/

 

SEVEN GRATITUDES: life & death

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{Seven Gratitudes is a lovely link-up I participate in some Fridays with my dear friend, Leanna. Head over to her blog for wonderful lessons and beautiful, honest writing.}

This week, two people (that I know of) in this world committed suicide. One was someone I didn’t know, but have connections to his work, and the other was a friend from my youth.

I would never presume to decide what happened in the world to lead to their decision, nor would I attempt to judge what they were feeling in the last months, weeks and days of their lives.

So in my grief, in my lack of understanding, I pray for their families and friends, and I turn to gratitude, to the things that give me life today.

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  • My sons’ second violin lesson. I thought that I loved music, that it orchestrated and moved my life through every season, and when I had Eliot, I found out I’m not the only one. In fulfilling this dream, he’s coming alive.

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  • This garden. There is something really sacred about growing plants from seeds. It brings out a nurturing spirit, and I guarantee that if you invest in these little seedlings and watch them grow into adult plants, harvesting their produce for your table, you’ll learn something wonderful about the cycle of life.
  • The latest endorsement to my book, the day after having my first podcast interview with Steve Wiens, author of f Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life and Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World:
“Kaitlin Curtice is the kind of writer whose words carry you to spacious places where you can breathe again. When I read Glory Happening, I was in a frantic season of my life, hurried and harried and kind of lost. With each of Kaitlin’s stories and prayers, I was gently invited back to a place of rest and grace. If you can stand it, please sip this book. It’s too delicious to drink all in one gulp.”
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  • Easter (and everyday life) with this man. He’ll be starting a fellowship with the Carter Center this summer, and I can see the fruit of his hard work coming to life in a way that I always knew it would. He’s one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever known.
  • A moment with one of my co-workers at church in which he leaned into my life as an indigenous woman and spoke to me about the whiteness of the church, about how, after all these years, something must change. In that moment, he honored the lives of people of color and our place in this world and in the church.

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  • Potawatomi culture and ceremonial practice. I ordered sweetgrass and ceremonial tobacco this week, and in honoring my own culture, I am finding a space with God that helps me slow down, breathe easier, and find true, sacred life in all spaces. I need that in the face of difficulty, when I am hungry for a moment of grace.
  • Sarah Bessey and Nish Weiseth, who both took over Twitter this week to point out the way female writers are treated in our world today (#ThingsFemaleWritersHear) and the reality that many women of color are not given a platform on which to share their work.

I encourage you to find your spaces of gratitude today. It can be as simple as a cup of coffee, a moment of silence, a deep breath, a glance out the window to the world that holds you.

I leave you with this benediction:

You have been called out,
Sent out,
Gathered up and told,
“You. You are the one to fulfill this dream. You are the one to know this journey. You are the one to find God and all goodness.”
And like a hand on the small of your back,
You head out,
Only adventure ahead of you,
Only a path untouched,
Only a story untold,
Only a life yet to be lived–
Yours.
Go, my friend.
Go in peace.