I Don't Want A Lonely Life
We often hear that sometimes you don't know how good things are until your present circumstances are ripped from your hands clinging tightly to them. But I think it can go both ways. Sometimes you don't know what is harming you until it is taken away. You can live in your routine, unaware of the very thing that is breaking down the fabric of your being because you have become desensitized to it.
I have always gravitated towards isolation. It wouldn't outwardly seem that way. I have never had the story of struggling to find friends in middle school. I have never experienced a lack in being surrounded by good, good people. But I have been lonely. And it was my own fault. It wasn't the kind of lonely that looked like me stuck in my room on a Friday night, with no one to call. It was the kind of lonely of being trapped inside my own thoughts and head, unwilling to let people in. It was a dangerously comfortable kind of lonely.
I am very much an internal processor, far more introverted than I may seem to be. I need space. I need to be myself to recharge and reenergize. I personally see no fault in that. But over the years, I have grown to believe the lie that I don't need to invite people into my problems and the deeper places of my heart. "I can fix it myself". I can't. I've never been able to. In my own arrogance, I would convince myself that God doesn't use other people to speak to me. And in my insecurity, I didn't think I was worthy of people investing in me. I wore a mask well. A mask that sheltered myself from becoming reachable; I shut people out before they got too close.
And it took living in a van with another human, travelling across the continent together, spending less than a total of 14 hours apart in the entire 87 days we were on the road to break that in me. In the van, "alone time" was not a thing. I couldn't say, "I need space" while we were driving 300 km through the deserts of Arizona. To be honest, the introvert in me was screaming. It wasn't easy. I wasn't easy. (God bless Morgan).
I struggled in those months. Old soil was buried deep in my heart, and with all of the pressures and stresses of living on the road, it got stirred up, and began spilling out of me. I was faced with insecurities and pain I thought I had dealt with, but I think much of it was just hiding under a blanket of fear I had laid across it. I couldn't run this time. There was nowhere to run. It was just me and a basket of my broken pieces, sitting next to Morgan, who saw all of them. At arm's length. For 87 days. (Again, God bless Morgan).
And although I returned home from the road with a book full of the adventures through towering mountains and sun kissed oceans and famous cities, those aren't the first thoughts on my mind when I revisit the memories I hold. I remember the journey. I feel as though I have gained something truly valuable, although most definitely painful. The road humbled me in a way I can safely say I have never been humbled before. Parts of myself I didn't like became exposed. And in my best efforts to hide them, I really didn't stand a chance.
But as I sit here tucked up in the far corner of my office in an old heritage home on Charlotte Street, the afternoon light dancing with the branches full of bright yellow leaves, I feel a certain gratefulness for the journey I am on. I am beginning to understand that fostering honest and firmly rooted relationships with people matters deeply to the Lord. I see my own lack. I know I can't fix everything myself, as much as I want to. We weren't ever meant to walk through life alone. We draw each other out when we let each other in. And when our pain is exposed, it then can be healed.
If I have any hope for this year ahead living back in my hometown, it's the dream of cultivating community, and even beyond that, family. To not only surround myself with people, but to let people see me. To be drawn out, encouraged, and challenged, and to do the very same thing for those I walk with. To let the bitterness I have gathered from letting things bury too deep see its last day and move forward with the courage only the Lord can give, knowing that sometimes I may just need a hand to hold to find that courage. And if you ever need a hand to hold, here's mine. You don't have to walk alone. Let's do this life thing together hey?!