I didn’t think I’d ever be the type of person to say this but, I’m lonely.
It hit me as I was watching TV. As the female leads shared secrets with each other over perfectly-poured glasses of wine and a pint of ice cream for breakfast, I realized that’s what I’ve been missing. Close, continual connection.
I love my family and friends. I'm lucky to have them. I know I can call and visit them, and vice versa, but it’s not like how it used to be.
The days when we didn’t second-guess hanging out; it was a given. The nights when we’d go to a friend's house with no agenda, and we’d end up doing our nails and watching a movie we’d already seen three times, including once in the theater.
Oh, and how could I forget the weekends at the movie theater? Of all the social outings growing up in Peoria, I miss this one the most.
*smiling as I reminisce*
There was nothing better than rolling up to Willow Knolls or Rave on a Friday night, meeting friends sans school uniforms, and letting ourselves get swept up in the warm scent of popcorn and endless possibilities of the next 2-3 hours together.
Who knows, maybe we’d end up at Monical’s Pizza or Steak ‘n Shake afterwards. And that was all the socializing we needed to fill us – and our AIM chats – up until Monday.
This is the simpler time I wish we could go back to, when it felt like we had all the time in the world. Now, it feels like I’m not spending enough time with others and a little too much time by myself.
I can already feel my smile fading as I come back to reality – the reality of still being single and childless, of wanting to have achieved a lot more by now, and of accepting the very real truth that I’m not getting any younger.
I feel like I'm starting to sound like a broken record.
Let me be transparent - I do have good days and meaningful relationships that give me joy, but lately I've really been feeling the ups and downs. And I know I'm not alone.
We've been taught to measure our lives by milestones like weddings, having kids, and new jobs or promotions. While these are good things and should be celebrated, they fall under the category of achievements, which can get dangerous when we use them to measure our happiness.
“I’ll take Lonely Loser for 100, please.”
I’m no expert at achieving, but I’ve certainly put in my 10,000 hours of trying to achieve - and feeling like I’m falling behind.
What usually happens when we don’t achieve?
We feel sad. We second guess ourselves. We dwell on our loneliness and unworthiness into the wee hours. And by we, I totally mean me.
"But Anna, you're a Christian. It's an easy fix. Just pray, and you'll feel better, right?"
Yes and no.
I am Christian. But I'm also human. I get in my feels. Even Jesus wept. (Need proof?)
Luckily, being a Christian gives me the hope to get through the bad days. Turning to Scripture helps, especially when it says things like:
"Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5 NIV)
"...now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete." (John 16:24 AMP)
"But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
If God says these things, then they must be true. There must be something better on the other side.
On days I have a hard time believing this or simply forget, I keep coming back to the Word.
I'm reminded that sadness is only a temporary feeling, one that acts like a tour guide, showing me the painful parts of my history that will eventually lead to the creation of a beautiful new monument. Or maybe a new community, or country.
That’s what I’m craving. Not my own country, but that constant feeling of community: the girls' nights and weekend movie dates I took for granted growing up.
How do I get that back?
How do we keep that feeling of community alive as we get older, when we’re stuck at home or stuck in transition?