Saturday, March 28, 2009

Can't do this alone anymore ...

People are lonely.

In this difficult time in our cultural life people are afraid. They need to talk, to connect. They tell me this. But, for many, the connections aren't there.

And so the loneliness feels like a suffocating isolation.

I had breakfast with a friend today. Someone I really like. I trust him. There were some things on his mind. I listened. There were things on my mind. He listened. We talked. No solutions. But I walked away feeling connected. It was friend to friend and man to man. Straight talk, I thought. Feeling talk and content talk.

It wasn't the sharing of mere opinion. That's too shallow. But I wonder how many people settle for the sharing of opinion...where there's no real listening, no feeling level stuff, no content beyond mere blabber? No wonder we're lonely.

I don't have the answer to loneliness. Wish I had a magic potion we could all take. My experience tells me that most people don't know how to do this 'relationship' thing so that it moves beyond shop talk, small talk, sports talk, and gossip. It's a set of skills some have never learned, others don't apply and a skill set many don't seek after. So, people settle and embrace the isolation even when they're with people they call friends.

God's blessed me. My wife is my best friend. She listens and cares. I have more than a few people I can be real with ...when I choose to do so. All too often I choose not to.

Last night 25 people were at our home. It was an Israel trip reunion. Some I've known for awhile. Quite a few are new in my life. I'm thinking today about why God brought them into relationship with me. Is there a next step I need to take with some of them? Or them with me? Or is the trip and the reunion all there is?

So, I'm thinking a lot about relationships. Is it true we are created for community? If we are has God gifted me to be a catalyst for authentic community where people move towards each other in ways they never before imagined? I already know the answer to that question. He has. But do I want to embrace that gifting and notch it up, living into its potential? That's a harder question.

And that gets me thinking about you. Some of you who read what I write are under-utilized for kingdom purposes. You could stir the pot of relationship, real and authentic. If indeed, our world is changing (and I think it is) we will need pot stirrers and catalytic leaders who step out connecting others to the possibilities God lays before us. Some of you are gifted in this area. No doubt about it. Do you want to embrace that gifting?

Thinking about all this scares me a bit. I've shared previously in other posts that sometimes I find comfort in the ruts I've carved out for myself. I find comfort but not satisfaction. The satisfaction will only come when I know I'm fully aligned with God's purposes for my life. Even when that means discomfort.

People are lonely. I've had too many phone calls, lunches, and e-mails recently where the message comes through loud and clear ..."I can't do this alone anymore."

So, I'm just thinking and praying and writing about and wondering ...and if you're reading this and you're feeling something stir in you ...maybe you should be thinking, praying, journaling, and wondering about what God is bringing to life in you. Let me know what you're thinking.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Mike, you have addressed a lot. God leads you. I have been blessed with a couple of deep friendships--that God orchestrated. We have gone thru trials in the relationship--but it has not only survived the trials, but has gotten stronger. You have had input--your insights are wonderful. Your gentle caring and valuing of us is very Christ-like. What an example you set for us--tough act to follow! But, I truly believe you follow the Lord. HE IS THE REAL TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW--He laid down his life--for you, me, and all of us. That brings it back to me. How do I follow that act? If I don't want to be lonely and isolated, I have to follow the Lord. That means I have to grow, I have to learn to be the friend I want. It isn't always easy--because I want to make my own points. I'm selfish on my own. Thank the Lord, He is calling me to something much greater, and far more wonderful--real relationships. The really cool thing about the Lord--when I follow Him, and struggle to put myself aside, and think of others & their needs, and then act on them (which is quite a struggle with myself at times), GOD BLESSES. He just blesses the socks off all parities involved. Life is a struggle, it's tough. I need the prayers of my friends. But, life is also exciting, and vibrant when we do it the Lord's way! CAM

Mike said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful post. It's interesting how life can be a struggle, tough and yet when we do it God's way - exciting and vibrant. Loved the way you put it at the end of your post.



AzKaneki said...

Relationships - The word alone scares most people; guess I'm not most people. :) I love "deep talk," as I call it. Nothing revs my engine more or makes my spirit feel whole than spending time with someone sharing God's Word or what He's doing/done in my life and theirs.

I think a lot of people "settle" for the shallow talk - for all kinds of reasons. For some it may be lack of time or awkwardness or lack training or practice; but for most, I would venture to say it's fear. First, I think many are too afraid to be completely honest with themselves, much less someone else. Then when they work up the courage to open up about something, there is the fear of rejection or being misunderstood or simply not understood at all.

I'm one of those people whose receiving Love Language is quality time, and I can tell you I don't get anywhere near what I'd like or need. I have three very close female friends that I have known for 31, 30 & 22 years respectively. All are Christians and have been my anchor through so much over the years. I know they would say the say about me. I have also become very close with my cousin in the last 8 years or so. Unfortuately, all three women are between 200-2000 miles away. Yes, email and phone calls keep us in touch, but it is not the same as sitting on the couch or in a quiet cafe sharing a beverage and a heart.

I am also a very demonstrative person. I'm a "toucher." Don't know why, just am - the arm, the hand, a hug. That doesn't work too well on email or phone either.

I've been known to call one of these women and talk up to four hours at a time (thank goodness cell phones now have roll-over minutes!). We never seem to run out of things to talk about. And yet, if you were to stop me any day of the week, 7 times out of 10 or probably even more, I'm lonely. Why?

Because I don't have those kinds of friends here - and it's not because I haven't tried. Trust me. For me, it's a case of having so much I want to share and wanting to be there for someone, but not having that someone here. Maybe I come on too strong, too soon. I don't like to mess around with the "fluff." Life is way too short and there are so many important, vital, lovely, awesome, deep, things to ponder, discuss, share.

I can't tell you the number of times I've "put myself out there" just to have someone smile and promise to call or say we'll get together, and "poof" they're gone. Or worse, the look (or blank look) on their face makes me want to say, "yeah, ok, never mind."

Anyway, I guess I feel like I'm on the other end of this lonely thing. I want to be someone's friend, listener, shoulder, souding board; and I'd love for that to be reciprocated. But when you've tried and failed (at least that's how it feels) as many times as I have, you tend to just give up. And then shrivel up. That's when I make a phone call and one of my dear friends reminds me why we're here and Who we're serving and why I just can't give up. But boy, howdy, sometimes it takes a lot of talking on their part.

So, probably not the response you were looking for, but let me know what you think. Janet

Mike said...

I wish relational hurt could be exterminated. How many people put themselves out there and are then rebuffed? It's so hard.

What's our choice then? Should we keep trying? Should we give up?

Sometimes I don't know. Thank God for good friends even if their hundreds of miles away, huh?

You have a lot to give. You've touched a lot of lives. You will continue to make a difference.

But I hear the pain in your post. And I don't want to try to cover it up. Sometimes, we have to enter into our 'pain' deeply enough to see what the Lord wants to accomplish with it. That's a hard answer.

Know this. If you ever want to talk about it's another friend, willing to talk. I can't fix anything but will be happy to journey a bit with you.

Blessings, Mike

Anonymous said...

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Paola Moreno

Anonymous said...

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Mike said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the thumbs up. Mike