I quickly pounded this article out for tomorrow mornings' deadline. It hits news stands sometime this week...Enjoy.
In the course of the next few hundred words I’d like to make a small confession that I suspect isn’t all that unique to me. In fact, my guess - and credible research bares it out - is that many of the readers of this little column will feel right at home with me. I’d guess that if you are honest with yourself, even for a very brief moment, that you’d nod your head, see what I see, and feel what I feel.
And here it is; I’m lonely.
To be true, my loneliness is not the deep searing loneliness of Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway or the desperate howling loneliness of the neighbors’ left-at-home flee bag. No, I have an amazing community of people around me who I roadtrip, camp, rockclimb, bike, snowboard, eat, work, and worship with. These are amazing individuals who add a mosaic of value, spice, and color to my life that, when brought all together, cause me to be incredibly thankful for these important relationships.
Yet, from time to time, I still feel this nagging little space in my life that causes me to agree with the Bible’s first indication that everything is not all that it should be. God, in observing all that He had created, sees mankind in isolation and declares, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And He is right; anyone who has felt aloneness, isolation, or has had nobody to call to help them move houses in the city they’ve lived their whole life, knows this. Deeply.
Somewhere along the way, either by our actions, the actions of others, or a combination of the two, the bits and pieces of life have conspired together to devastate our relationships. Dads stop being good dads to their sons and daughters, employers begin treating their employees like this seasons’ BC Lions are playing football, and spouses’ consign themselves to living on different floors of the house just to stay out of each others’ hair.
This is not good.
I’ve found that it is in these seasons of aloneness that I also feel a sense of disorientation and a stumbling stupor to some of the big questions in life. Questions like, “Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the point of all this?” Not that big questions are bad questions, they’re just difficult questions, especially when I’m alone. Commenting on these questions, author Steven Pressfield says, “These are not easy questions. They’re not easy because the human being isn’t wired to function as an individual. We’re wired tribally, to act as part of a group.”
This is what I long for; a tribe of my own, people to tell stories with, an ordeal to conquer with someone, and a memory that is shared with them. I guess you could call this community. But it seems deeper than what is often programmed and marketed by organizations, including the church.
However, my experience has shown time-and-time again that when I slow my pace of life, make myself vulnerable to friendship and connection, and intentionally engage in the life of a community - meaningful connection with other people follows. I find these places in my church, my rockclimbing community, and the surprise of all places - my actual neighbors, dog and all. This, people connected with other people desipte their differences and distinctions, is what I think God might call, “Very good.”
Jeremy Postal pastors in Abbotsford and is an introvert who must be forced or bribed out of his garage and into the real world where there are real people.