“Does anyone really know me?”
Loneliness is such a pervasive experience in our culture. We are often surprised and saddened by the degree of aloneness we experience in adulthood. From the outside, it seems like family and work and church would provide a vital sense of place and belonging. The reality of our hurried and hectic lives often keeps us skimming across the surface of our relationships with spouses and children and coworkers and neighbors.
For Sam, this realization came in the form of a question well into his late 40s. After a few decades of taking God seriously, serving wherever he found himself and trying to honor God amidst all his responsibilities, he sensed something was wrong. A question broke the surface of his awareness one evening: In the midst of all of the stuff that I am doing for God and others, does anyone really know me? This question captured his inner unrest. He began to recognize his soul’s impoverishment, the lack of depth and connection in his life.
For Sam, this haunting question prompted considerable reflection upon the shape of his life. He began to mull over another way of life, one where he might make greater space for others. Slowly but surely Sam’s decisions reflected greater relational priorities. One simple decision like making regular coffee times with a gentleman he always looked up to and admired seemed to awaken an awareness of God’s goodness in his life. Sam began to suspect that the Spirit of God was converting his unrest and loneliness into an invitation to something greater, or perhaps something truer, a more human and holy way of life.
The tale of an individual human life is too often told as a sequence of independent and unshared moments. And our hearts cry out. We long to know and be known more intimately. We desire deeper, more enduring, and meaningful relationships. And without these sorts of friendships our good intentions to mature into wise, loving, joyful, and resilient people never materialize. Friendship is not “a cherry on top” of the Christian life; it is an essential condition for a life of maturing into Christ.
Where might the Spirit be inviting you to a deeper relational life with Jesus and with others?
I have found this article to be very thoughtful on the topic of the church and loneliness — “Lonely Churches Dying Due To Friendlessness”