I want to thank all of you for your kind words, encouragement and sharing some of your own stories yesterday. Grateful for your love and authenticity!
I have to start by sharing something that made me laugh yesterday! The first Instagram like I got on my #lonely post was from a tequila company!!!! That’s kind of taking advantage of me, isn’t it?!!! 🙂 So, today, with a shot of tequila in my hand, I continue… (just kidding!)
Today’s thoughts are around the topic of isolation and what God taught me last year concerning community and the importance of relationships. Now, I must admit I am wired as a solitary being. I love being alone…being quiet…sitting in silence…you get the picture! God has designed me to decompress and refresh in solitary places but last year took that to the unhealthy extreme.
When I transitioned out of being a campus pastor in May, I didn’t realize how much of my community was managed by the weekly rythm of seeing friends and people I loved each weekend. I would run into someone and just by seeing them, was reminded of the need to connect and could plan something in the moment. When I stepped out of that role, I stepped out of that consistent place which made staying in community difficult.
Now, I’m not saying things should have stayed the way they were. In fact, they couldn’t, because I was moving into a new world and needed to disengage so the new leader could forge those relationships with those he was now called to shepherd. The real problem was, I didn’t have a backup plan for community and connection. Didn’t even know I needed one…but I did.
As God guided me into a season of loneliness, I wouldn’t have one of the most important tools he gave me in my toolbox to work with the lonely season. This would make life that much lonelier in 2017.
You’re going to notice that my back pain has been a consistent companion for what God has been teaching me on this journey. It opened me up to another lesson last week around the topic of community.
Each year, in January, I take 24 hours away for an annual review/preview retreat to take a look back on where I have come from and look forward to where I am going with new theme’s, goals and objectives for the new year. A week ago, I was on this retreat with three close friends.
As the retreat began, I could tell my back was going to give me some issues and as the day progressed, man did it ever! I talked to the Lord about it, then took an ibuprofen (see, I’m learning my lessons!) and nothing happened. Still a lot of pain but I didn’t mention anything to my friends. I was in pain, alone.
Around dinner time, I finally mentioned that my back was hurting and as we retired to an outdoor fireplace conversation, my friend Roy said, “Hey, I’ve got some Aleve and it really seems to help me with my arthritis. You want to give it a shot?” At that point, I was willing to try anything, short of tequila, so I took two. About 30 minutes later, my pain was gone. What a relief!
As I went to bed, I sensed the Spirit wanted to say something to me about my interaction with Roy: “I’ve given you good friends who want to pray for you and help you in your struggles. When you share with them, it’s a healing process. (like the Aleve Roy gave you) I will always be here to help you, but I have given you others who I want to use in your life to help you too. Pursue those relationships, embrace them and live life together in 2018.”
“Bear one another’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2
Such an important lesson and one I’ve already calendared with these 3 men for this year. The truth is, I need consistent community and I refuse to allow isolation to bring more loneliness in 2018. If you’re anything like me, I would encourage you to find those few who you can connect with consistently and then get it on the calendar! For us, it looks like a monthly dinner and conversation around our goals and life challenges this year. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just needs to get calendared!
As I close, here are a few things I will share in posts throughout next week:
What God taught me about my marriage last year (with Natalie’s permission of course!)
What theme God gave me for this year based on last year’s experience
What I discovered about the gift of a soul at rest and how this walk with God really does work!
What new direction God has given me for 2018 and how the loneliness was preparing me for God’s best.