How is it possible to sit in a room with 200 people and feel such overwhelming loneliness? It is possible; I experienced it this past weekend. Loneliness is not just about a person being alone. This world is a crowd. We all live in a crowd -- family, friends, parents at your child’s school, co-workers, fellow Christians, and our community. We are always getting connected with someone somewhere. But, the mere presence of other people is not sufficient enough sometimes for us to overcome loneliness.
This past weekend, I found myself in a room full of people I didn’t know. Other people seemed to know each other. Everyone was visiting and laughing, yet I felt so detached from it all. Somehow I just couldn’t relate to the crowd. I was on the fringe of things and didn’t quite fit in. This feeling may have been real or it may have been imagined, but it hurt nevertheless.
If we are honest with ourselves, I think we all have a longing to belong to the crowd: we want to be liked, to be significant, to be popular. When we speak, we want people to listen. We long to be in the “middle” where everyone is relating to everyone else. We want to “belong”, not because we are strong and self-confident, but because we are weak and don’t want to stand out.
I think a crowd of people can trigger an episode of loneliness because it magnifies the reality of a loss. (Example: A widow or widower feels the loss of their spouse more when they are in a group of married couples.) I honestly believe this is what happened to me. Don’t take this wrong because I LOVE my new church. I love the music, I love the genuine worship, and I absolutely love the “meaty” messages we hear each week. I would not want to be anywhere else! But, sometimes I miss my old church – the way it used to be. I miss knowing 90% of the congregation by name. I miss my church family. I miss my Sunday School class. I miss warm greetings and visiting after the service in the foyer. I miss people “loving on me”. And, because I’m human and struggle with pride sometimes, I’ll admit that I miss being part of the staff, being part of the “in crowd” that knows what is going on and feeling important (embarrassed, disappointed in myself, but just being totally honest!).
When I got home and my family was off to the movies, I had a meltdown. I just sat in the chair and cried. I’m sure a small part of it was the culmination of days of activity and too little sleep, but those feelings of loneliness and “not belonging” were soooo real. Then it was time to dry my eyes, thank the Lord for His goodness to me, remember all the things I have to be grateful for, and get on with my life!
8 months ago