Loneliness = Reaching Out

This blog refers to the divorce I went through in 2011. I originally wrote this post for Redtentliving.com, but it was unable to be released because of a time constraint (what, me not be on time?!?! That is so unlike me! 😉 ) So, not wanting to waste a post, here you go:

“I don’t belong in this group”, I said through tears on a Monday night. My small group was full of newly married or “kind of newly” married people, and I was in the middle of a divorce. “You guys are so happy, so content, and I am here, with my sadness and same old problems just weighing everyone down”. I felt defeated in life. My heart was angry, lonely and jealous of the life they all lived. Feeling alone the entire day, I was overwhelmed with sadness on my drive to small group. Alone. Hidden. Dying to reach out, but too scared to fall. Despite my fears and desire to not “rock the boat”, I reached for a lifeboat and chose to be vulnerable.

My counselor has a sign in her office that lists the emotions and their “gifts”. Each emotion, should we choose to lean into it and examine it in our own hearts, has a gift or redeeming quality. The gift of loneliness has always struck me as the scariest. The gift of loneliness is reaching out. And what a strange idea reaching out is. In our current culture of fast fixes and superficial social media relationships, the age old idea of reaching out to others is not even a thought to most people. Or, if it is, it’s just too scary.

It’s unnerving to reach out. It’s a risk. Unveiling your heart and being vulnerable are not frontiers people often want to venture out into.  Showing up and reaching out can be an overwhelming idea. “What if no one hears me? What if they don’t answer or think it’s weird that I am sharing what’s actually going on? What if they think I’m too much and are tired of my problems?”

But what if they don’t? What if when you called that friend and confessed loneliness, she says “me, too” and meets you in that space? What if when you finally shared your sadness or anger, your friend says“I know, I’ve felt that, too”? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I often equate the idea of “reaching out” to a leap. There’s a giant cliff in front of you and your heart, the Lord, and your loneliness beg you to jump. “Reach out”, God says, “I’ll be there if you fall. Share your feelings and see what I can do”.  But fear retorts with “Yes, it’s sadder and more isolated up here, but is it really that bad? I mean, it’s a lot safer up here”. And we choose. Do we jump and trust or do we stay and wither?

Jump. Just jump. Tell a friend, tell a stranger, tell your pastor, your small group. Tell them, reach out to them and say what’s in your heart. It’s a gift that is worth it. Trust me. I’ve called many a friend and said “I’m calling because I feel lonely”, I’ve wept to coworkers, in-laws, siblings, and just shared what’s going on. Once, as my son cried in the grocery store, I saw another mom and I said to her “Does this get better? Because I’m feeling really discouraged”. She got to see my heart and God employed her words to minister to me because I chose to be vulnerable.

I want to encourage you to reach out to someone. Maybe you think of someone often and admire something about them. Reach out to them and tell them. Maybe you’re struggling with sadness, tell a friend and see how God uses them. I truly believe God blesses those who choose to trust Him, even if it seems little. But sharing out hearts is never a little matter, it’s a risk, and it’s a gift that you do not want to miss.