Driving home from a birthday party the other night, through parts of town that are more familiar to me than where I live now, my mind started reeling with memories and longings of the past. I thought of all of the leaving behind we’ve done in the past five years and an ache started to well up in my chest as I tried to look into the future. I need a friend, I thought. It’s a very familiar feeling because we have moved so many times. I am constantly on the lookout for ‘my person’ who is within a 10 mile radius of our new address. It takes a really long time to find the kind of friendship I want.
I want to be known, and I want who I am to be okay. I want to say something that is just completely “Julie” and be met with, “I know, right?” and I want that to be reciprocated in the relationship. That’s really all it boils down to for me. To know and be known in a deep sense of the concept.
When you move as much as we have, it becomes really hard to find, invest in, and maintain those kinds of relationships. I have a flight warning light that goes off in my head when I start to dive deep with someone. It’s as if my arms are locked in place for a time, keeping people at arms length, because if I let down my guard and bring friendship close, what happens when we leave? Heartbreak. It never fails.
So while we are transitioning and ‘trying to find our new normal,’ I am also grieving the relationships that I’ve had to leave behind, and there seems to be no grace-period in this transition. Everyone asks, “Are you excited to be here? Do you love your new house?” And I’m over here just trying to remember to breathe and focus on the tasks at hand because if I step outside of this little comfort zone I’ve drawn around myself, I will see that I am starting over yet again, and that my heart, while mending, is still very fragile, and it doesn’t trust that once the healing is complete, it won’t be broken into pieces once again. I will see that I am all alone.
Loneliness is a feeling I know all too well.
I knew coming back to Fort Worth would be different and that we would basically be starting over again, but at least we had some people here. Everyone’s lives have changed though, including mine. There are new babies, new jobs, summer trips, camps, new schools, and now it is more of an effort to see each other as we can’t just walk down the street or take a three minute drive to the next neighborhood. It’s not the same and I didn’t expect it to be. I expected the loneliness, honestly, but I didn’t decide what I was going to do about it.
Something the Lord spoke to me a few years ago in Austin came back to my mind in the car that night, as it has repeatedly over the years. It’s the image that He showed me of Him standing behind me with a Julie-shaped space beside Him. I was a step ahead of the hole, searching for that space where I fit perfectly, and all the while He was waiting for me to step back into it, because my place is with Him.
Summer is a killer to my quiet times. I am the champion of putting off spending time with the Lord in the summer because conditions around me do not meet up to the expectations that I’ve set for our time together. I want to be 100% alone, I want 100% quiet around me, and I do not want to be interrupted. Guess what never happens in the summertime? ALL OF THOSE THINGS. Wether I sleep too late or my kids are up too early, it just never works out the way I want it too, and I allow so many factors to get in the way. Couple this issue with a huge transition and guess what happens? I find myself, once again, stepping out of my place and looking for anything or anyone else to be my safe place. To be my person, to tell me that I am known and that who I am is okay. I find myself feeling unknown and untethered.
We visited our second fellowship yesterday, after trips out of town, company, and #allthereasonswhy we couldn’t continue our church-hopping journey this summer. Even in the midst of unfamiliar people and songs, entering that sanctuary was like breathing in for the first time in a month. The sermon hit right where it needed to in my heart. I closed my eyes and was reminded that the journey back to where I belong is a very short one, while the journey away from it is long and arduous.
The truth about loneliness is that when it rolls in like a storm cloud, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have people around me, it means that I am looking to those people to fill a need that only God can fill. It means that I have stepped out of the space where I was created to dwell, and I am searching for a dwelling somewhere else. It means that I am neglecting the most important and fulfilling relationship in my life, and that I am not tied as closely to Him as I should be. My loneliness is not about me, it’s about me and Him. It’s about seeking others first instead of Him first, and if that’s not the loneliest thing in the world, I don’t know what is.
The other thing the Lord is reminding me of is that the only expectation He has of our time together is
that we come. He doesn’t care where, or how, or when, just that we actually set the time aside to meet with Him. If He can hold our gaze for any length of time, He can do amazing things in our hearts. When we allow Him the time and space to move, He rushes in like a flood and fills our most empty places. He reminds us that He knows us better than anyone else in the world, and He secures our feet at His side.
This morning I had my alarm set and I actually started to wake before it went off. As much as I wanted to ignore it and go back to sleep, my spirit was crying out to be fed. I got up, made my coffee, and settled into my spot. It wasn’t completely quiet and I was interrupted by humans and dogs alike, but I stayed in that place, poised to receive whatever it was the Lord had for me. I turned on some worship in my earbuds and I relaxed into His presence. Nothing outside of this house has changed. I am still grieving goodbyes and wishing we could fast forward a year and be settled in our community and in a family of believers, but my loneliness is abating this morning. I am moving back into my position beside the Father, because I am known in Him, and who I am is acceptable at His side.