While the words “lonely” and “community” seem mutually exclusive, I’m learning that they are, in fact, not. I’ve always thought that the hole in my heart would be filled if I just had better community. I’ve heard this from many twenty-somethings, that they just feel so lonely and if only they had a community it would solve the ache in their heart.
And here’s where I’d like to disagree.
Once upon a time I held tightly to community or what I thought was community. I’d get really upset if plans would change or people would bail at the last minute. I controlled circumstances and people without even realizing that’s what I did. Then I left this place where I had a rag-tag community that changed faces as often as a shopping mall door revolves around Christmas. In and out, always new, never having my needs met so I would move on.
My mom even called me out on it one time. No one could ever keep my friends straight because I was always flitting from group to group hoping to fill the hole in my heart. And I did find some wonderful wonderful people. People who to this day I know will pray for me and care about my heart.
I have one sweet moment where my friends who I had just started hanging out with knew I was potentially going to leave my nanny job. We got together that night and they literally gathered around me, laid hands on me, and petitioned the Father on my behalf. That was a moment I felt like I was being sharpened by iron.
But then I moved to Colorado and I found a small community. I started to feel guilty that the hole in my heart was filling. I didn’t want it to. I wanted to believe that the only community I would ever have was the one in Nashville. But the hole got fuller and fuller which is when the lies started coming.
needing people is a sin.
don’t need them. if you need them, they leave.
they’ve left you before. why are you doing this to yourself?
they just put up with you. they don’t actually want you.
don’t be played the fool again, mueller.
I’d constantly war with myself about whether or not my community bubble was a good thing or a bad thing. If I was just setting myself up for rejection and failure. But I found with these people that for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to control or manipulate them. Sure I still had moments where I was convinced everyone was hanging out without me, and there probably were moments they did, but I was secure enough in who I was for that to not be a problem.
I also started realizing that these specific people and the way we did life together made me know Christ more intimately. And the more I knew Christ more intimately, the less I needed friends.
So I would disagree and say no, your loneliness won’t be cured by marriage or friendships or a series of broken relationships. Because you’ll still feel lonely even in the middle of a crowd. And you’ll always feel like the night can’t end because what will you do if this is the last time you hang out and you frantically make plans for the next time you can hang. It’s an endless merry-go-round you desperately need to get off of, but can’t.