Monday, February 9, 2015

Lonely Guy Checks In

It's funny what being embarrassingly honest can get you these days.

And by "funny," I mean "awesome."

Just last week I posted about being lonely, about how this phase of life, of being a stay-at-home parent, of rising each day and knowing that my primary companion for the day is more likely to pee on me than give me a good conversation, is a lonely place. And it was easy before I posted it to feel like that loneliness was something I was suffering, well, alone. That all the other parents out there were happily trucking along with some dear companions, sipping coffee and laughing at their children's tantrums together.

Myriads of responses later, however, the truth became apparent. This is a tough and lonely gig, people. For those of us, particularly, who may have had a job or career we loved or who never imagined staying at home past maternity leave, this may be the hardest and most isolating experience of our lives so far. (Let's leave middle school out of the reckoning for that title, shall we?)

Within minutes of posting, I saw other parents admit to being in the same place. Not only feeling lonely, but yearning for deep friendship, for the type of friendship that is comfortable, that requires no preparation beforehand. No personal grooming or domestic tidying. No kid in the perfect and sweet mood. And the funny thing is- I think we often think other people need us to put on that show that happens at the beginning of friendships. The small talk, the clean house, the perfect snacks and the deodorant. But really? I think very few of us actually care about that stuff, particuarly if not worrying about it makes it much easier for real relationship, honest interaction and easy camaraderie to be found.

So why do we make it so hard on ourselves? Why do we think we need to play a certain game here that, if we're honest, is just too exhausting to play?

I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that my week turned out very differently than I had imagined it would when I pressed the "publish" button on that post. Lovely texts and sweet messages and encouraging verses and invitations to hang out poured forth. I had a wonderful dinner with a newer friend and a fantastic night going deeper with some women I've known for a year now but still don't know as well as I'd like. I had a morning with two newer friends from church where our kids played long enough for us to actually say more than one sentence in a row a few times. I felt surrounded on Sunday by wonderful community as we baptized our sweet little man. Miracles do happen, friends.

Did I have that "person" come magically out of the blue? Of course not. That takes work, it takes patience, it takes putting myself out there- work I am trying to do. I did strike up two conversations with strangers at the library and the Y and get far enough to exchange names. I did laugh with new friends. I did feel like something could possibly change.

Bottom line, I hoped.

Hope is a pretty powerful thing.

Nate's tantrums didn't stop at the end of the week. It didn't get any easier on that front. But the thought of those texts, those calls, those invitations...well, it made the tantrums a little easier to bear. And the laughter I experienced at night with those new friends? Well, laughter is powerful, too. And its remnants can last long enough to get me through some of those tough mornings that follow.

So to those of you who joined in the conversation in honest and painful solidarity, I feel your pain and pray for hopeful moments for you this week even as I hope for more of my own. To those who texted or called or just made it clear that I can text or call you if I need to, thank you for reaching out to "lonely guy." To those with whom I laughed and talked, thank you for giving me what I needed to make it through the week feeling like I wasn't alone in this. To those I overlooked because of my own shyness or pain or isolation, I apologize and pray that my eyes would be clearer this coming week and that I would remember strongly that most of us really do yearn for something real and good and deep and are waiting for someone to extend the invitation.

Friends, let's be people this week who see those around us, who long to extend God's love and our friendship to them and who are open to what kind of laughter and magic might happen as a result.

No comments:

Post a Comment