At small group this week we dove into a beautiful conversation about loneliness, what we believe causes this in our own lives at times and the lives of those around us. Our conversation lit up my blogging mind and I wanted to share more thoughts on the subject with you.
When I say “you’re” please know I mean a collective “us”. We all face moments or seasons of loneliness. While there are unavoidable external factors that contribute to loneliness, there are shifts in our lives we can choose to make in order to foster fellowship and community.
Think of a nice college guy who, after one rejection, doesn’t ask another lady out for coffee for an entire year. We often act like that college boy. Afraid a potential friend will turn us down. When you don’t ask, you waste opportunities. You miss out on gathering with incredible people who are *just waiting* for you to talk to them!
When you’re forming friendships and building community, foster resilience to rejection and canceled plans. Keep asking and inviting. Give yourself time nurture connections repeatedly.
Christy Wright likes to say, “You don’t have too many things in your life, you have the wrong things in your life.” Busyness builds a wall that leaves no room for deep connection. If you’re lonely, what can you quit or rearrange in order to make time for connection? You have to say no to a million trivial commitments to have room for moments that foster fellowship.
More specifically, you’re afraid of what people will think of your messy house. Have you ever thought your house has to be spotless before you can invite anyone over? Ditch that belief. The Nester says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” Everyone else lives in imperfectly lovely homes too. Invite friends into your mess.
I’m willing to bet on a regular basis a large majority of us don’t know what to make for dinner (even for our own families). Let’s press into that “don’t know” together. Here are 97 simple dinner ideas. Food Gawker has great recipes too. Or you could always have cereal for dinner.
You’ve been burned. An old friendship fizzled or went down in flames. You believe the lies that you’re not a good friend or other people will let you down, so why bother putting yourself out there again? Seek healing. There are people out there longing to know you.
It’s normal to seek out community with people who are like you. Maybe you’re looking for young couples when you could be reaching out to elderly people. You’re hoping to meet new parents when you could be gathering with couples without kids. You want to bond with empty nesters when you could be inviting the single people over.
Friendships with people who share your life stage and interests are great. But our narrow ideals for friendships can keep us from experiencing the joy of intergenerational and intercultural relationships.
You have gifts. Tapping into those gifts and sharing them with others opens the door to friendships in your community. Friendships you might never make if you stay home and withhold your gifts and aspirations.
One word: Netflix. We all do it. Cozy up on the couch after a long day of work and binge watch your favorite shows for hours. (Maybe it’s not Netflix for you but what ever it is…) This keeps you from putting yourself in situations where you could meet people. Make time to engage in different areas of life.
You’re not vocal about your loneliness. You don’t express your feelings of isolation. When you keep quiet how will anyone else know you could use a friend? When you express it — most likely people will say, “Me too.” Our society is an individualist, lonely place. There are others feeling the same way.
What change are you willing to make to foster friendship in your life? Share with other Kitchen Fellowshipers in the comments below.
Pick one thing from the list above and work on making a small change. Invite someone over when your house is a little messy. Ask someone over who’s not your usual friendship target. Swear off Netflix a few nights this week and host a little gathering instead.
Because I know some of your hearts are truly aching with loneliness, I’ll write about external factors for loneliness and pondering what we can do about them. And if you need a listening ear, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.