Tag: loneliness

Neighboring Challenge, Day 3 – Relational Poverty

Ever feel like you have tons of “friends” on social media, but little deep relational connection?

Ever been at a party, but feel alone?

Are you concerned that your kids are good at texting, but aren’t equipped for many relational situations and face-to-face conversations?

“Relational poverty”, or loneliness is a growing phenomena. I loved listening to a message on Loving the Lonely and thought I’d share a few notes…

Relational poverty = lacking the intimacy and connections to live a meaningful life. You can be with a lot of people and yet feel very alone. There are people around you, but you don’t feel like they care, or that you can open up to them.

Why is relational poverty a growing issue, especially in the west?

  • Breakdown of families
  • Increased mobility – people don’t stay in one place long.
  • Heavy workload – too busy.
  • The rise of social media. We get a glimpse into someone’s life, but not true connection.

Sooo….How did Jesus love the lonely or isolated?

  1. With touch. Matthew 8:1-4

    Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”

    Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone.

2. By listening.  Ex.: In Luke 24, on the road to Emmaus Jesus asks questions and listens.

v. 17 He asks, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”

v. 19 He says, “What has happened?”

We can ask others:

  • Tell me your story?
  • How are you doing – REALLY?
  • How can I pray for you?

3. With time. Jesus was busy, but always interruptible.

I’m convicted that even when I’m not technically rushing, I can give off a vibe with my body language that I’m too busy to be present and take time to truly listen and care.

Which of these three can you get better at giving? How do we need these in our neighborhoods?

Neighboring Challenge

  • Bake something and take it to a neighbor you don’t know yet. Here’s what I tried.

Here’s a recipe you can make and take to neighbors from my sister-in-law Jane.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Mix 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar

Add 2 eggs,

1/2 ts. salt

3 large ripe bananas, mashed

1 ts. baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

1 3/4 cups flour

Chocolate chips

This makes 2 8×4″ loaves or 3 mini loaves

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Reduce to 300 and bake about 50 minutes more (less for mini loaves)

Confession: Most of the time I totally ignore the temp change and just do it for less time.

  • Learn your neighbors’ names. Reach out to everyone living within two houses or apartments on every side of you. Make sure you know their name and contact information. Create a “map” to give to those in your neighborhood to help you better connect.

(YIKES! I am an extrovert! I “do people”! But still, when I did this I was NERVOUS! So, if that’s you, know that you’re not alone! You can do this! Everyone was super nice and grateful I was doing this)

 

 

A Priest, a Levite, and Me at Starbucks

There’s a new guy who’s been coming to my “office” (read: Starbucks). He’s maybe 45 years old, chubby, with white blond hair. He wears track shorts every day rain, shine, or 50 degrees. He sits in the same chair looking for his next victim someone to talk to.

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I’ve watched him, desperately latching onto anyone who will catch his eye. If someone acknowledges him, however briefly, it’s all over. He will stick to them like a factory tag you forgot to remove from your jeans, trying to make conversation. My judge-y mcjudgerson self thinks he might as well have “EMOTIONALLY NEEDY” written across his forehead.

And so, I’m careful to avert my eyes so I don’t get sucked into his vortex of chattiness. I don’t need this. I don’t need him interrupting my time with JESUS.

And then Jesus tells me a story about another guy in need by the side of the road, and a priest and a Levite who avert their eyes, crossing to the other side in order not to be  inconvenienced by the messiness of this stranger’s life.

But then, the least likely suspect, (maybe it would  be a white supremacist stopping to help an African American today), draws near and cares for the man’s needs. Jesus commends him as the loving neighbor.

I sigh and think “Ok, ok, Lord. I get your point.”

I go to the counter and ask my baristas, “What do you know about the guy who’s been coming in lately? What’s his story?”

“He says he got kicked out of another coffee shop, but he’s trying to be good and he likes it here. He’s got PTSD.”

I pay for his next day’s drink anonymously, feeling self-righteous. I’ve done my “Good Samaritan” thing, ready to move on. But Jesus isn’t done with me yet.

I want to turn away, but Jesus turns towards.

I sense Him gently asking: “Did the Samaritan throw a CVS gift card across the road from a safe distance and let the needy guy buy his own bandages? Is a free drink the only thing this guy needs to feel loved and seen? Have you never been needy or lonely?”

Jesus can be so persistent and inconvenient can’t He??

So this morning I say a quick prayer and brace myself as I walk into Starbucks. I look needy guy straight in the eye, smile, and say “Good morning! I’ve been seeing you here a lot lately. What’s your name?”

5 Things to Do When a Friend is Hurting

A few weeks ago I wrote about those times when we feel like we’re under water and we’re trying to help a drowning friend, but everything is in slow motion, silent and hollow, and we can’t communicate and it’s so frustrating.

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One of the common elements I notice with friends who are in hard seasons is loneliness. Not necessarily that they are alone, but they feel isolated. We feel bad and we want to fix it or DO something and we don’t know what to say or do.

My friend Betsy Anderson came in and shared on this subject with a community of young married couples I shepherd at church last Sunday.

She is wise and kind and has experienced a tremendous amount of pain herself.  She has written curriculum and taught workshops on caring for each other in community.  I’m not good at this, but I’m learning from her. Here are a few of her good insights: Continue reading

Partying Like Jesus

Chances are you’ve already been to a holiday party and you may have others looming.  The office party.  The family party.  The cookie exchange. The neighborhood open house.

Me too.

I was out at a party the other night and I had a great time – gorgeous decorations, unbelievable food, fun people, and twinkle lights (how can you not be jolly when there are lots of twinkle lights??!!)IMG_3214But I reflected later that night, looking for times in my day when I sensed the pleasure of Jesus and other times when…welllllll…not so much… (You know, the Examen that I’ve written about before).  I was a bit dismayed.  The party had been a time when I had acted like a self-centered toddler, putting my fingers in my ears so I could ignore the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

And you know what the Holy Spirit kept trying to whisper to me that I didn’t want to hear? Continue reading

Taking Out Drones, and 4 Thoughts about Meaningful Community

This is a picture of my small group from when we met the other night (with a few missing).

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Yep, these are my people.  Ready take out drones (which one of us is sure are pervasive and always spying on us).

photo 1-3 In addition to gun-popping, the evening included a potluck of appetizers, brainstorming about beer sleigh-rides, hysterical laughter, and prayer.photo 2-2John can’t get over how loud we are and how we are able to talk over each other in excitement, but still hear and respond.  These are the same yahoos who joined me in an “experimental mutiny against excess” ala Jen Hatmaker.  They are gamers for sure.

But what we were talking about the other night was relationships.  We’ve been using Donald Miller’s Creating Your Life Plan, which is a great set of ten modules looking back to evaluate different areas of your life, and looking forward to set intentional goals. So this week we were mapping out the most significant relationships in our lives and analyzing them.

“The people you hang out with the most over the next 10 years, will determine the kind of person you will become.” Donald Miller

Two of the questions we talked about were:

  • What relationships are positively affecting who I’m becoming?
  • What relationships are negatively affecting who I’m becoming?  What changes can I make or boundaries can I put in place?

I’d encourage you to go through the exercise yourself (or order the whole deal!), but actually it was the tangential conversations we had that have kept me thinking this week.  In addition to getting side-tracked onto talking about beer sleigh rides, we noticed these things:

1. We all experience loneliness to some degree, no matter how healthy or friendly or connected we are.  We long for meaningful relationships and can find them, but no other person will completely satisfy our desire for knowing and being known and completely accepted.  We were made for God and only are complete in Him.  But we are made for each other too, so doing the hard work of finding and investing in meaningful friendships is worthwhile.

2. Different seasons require different degrees of intentionality.  When we are young and/or single, or older and empty-nesters we have more freedom, more choice in our relationships, but we also have to do more initiating.  There aren’t as many relationships naturally built into the rhythm of our life.

For those in a season with kids, there are many years when community is comprised of “have to’s” – the people who are there at the soccer games, or on the PTA committee with you, or parents of your kids’ friends.  You have a lot of relationships built into the rhythm of your life, but not as much time to choose who you’re going to spend time with.  It’s important to identify what choices you do have.

3. There’s a wide variety of relationships where we need change. They may be family members.  They may be unhealthy people.  But they may also be great people who just bring out the worst in us – tempt us to compare or reinforce the negative voices in our head.  It’s important to ask both, “What might God desire to teach me through this relationship?” and “What boundaries might make this relationship healthier?”

4. No matter how extroverted we may be, we all have a limited capacity – a limited number of relationships we can maintain healthily.  And that may differ according to the emotional needs of family in different seasons.  It’s good for us to acknowledge our limits, adjust our expectations, and be gentle with ourselves.

That’s a little of what I’ve been learning about relationships.  That, and pop-guns make any gathering more fun.  What about you?  What are you learning or struggling with in this area?

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Questions About…Risk

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Sharon is a dear friend who both inspires and intimidates me with her amazingness.  She has guest-posted here before.  I’m so thankful that in the midst of a busy, stressful time, she was willing to share some more of what she’s learning.  Here’s the next in our 5 Questions About…series.

1. Recently you took what must have felt like a huge risk. Can you tell us about it?

Eight months ago, I resigned from a job I had loved and made the leap to running my own business. This happened after an extended season of prayer and discernment, so by the time I made the change, I felt certain it was the right thing to do.

Yes, there were practical risks involved: leaving a certain income, benefits, 401K; losing the familiarity of my office and team. And as a single person, I didn’t have a safety net of a second income, back-up insurance, or a support person to pick up slack in other areas of life. But I was also very clear about why I was making the change: 1) to be faithful to what I understood God was putting in my hands; 2) to learn and grow through a new challenge.

So when I framed it that way, I realized that even if my business failed (and I had to move into my parents’ basement), I would experience God in deeper ways and learn things I wouldn’t otherwise. Continue reading

Thanksgiving

Fall in Minnesota is like Mardi Gras.

Actually I don’t know that for sure because I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but Fall is a huge event.  A blazing last hurrah before THE DEPRIVATION of light and color and warmth for a long, long, time.  Sounds like Mardi Gras to me.

When we left Minneapolis two weeks ago for Africa, the firey autumnal luster was fading but leaves were valiantly clinging to branches, reluctant to give up the fight and die for the long, long, long frozen season of dark.

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Spoiler alert: they failed in their efforts.

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Now, we return to the black crooked limbs silhouetted against a gray November sky.  The leaves have lost the battle and lay cold on the ground. Twinkle lights try to replace the glow of harvest color and there’s a tug-o-war going on between those who want to start the Christmas carols now and those who don’t want to leap over Thanksgiving straight to the 24 hour holiday sales of the day after. Continue reading

Seeing and Being Seen

I was sitting in church on the aisle on a Sunday awhile ago, feeling alone and out of place.  Have you ever felt that way? (I figure if I have, I’m not the only one!).  The sanctuary was darkened for a video when I felt a strong hand squeeze my shoulder from behind.  I turned to see a dear friend who I love and hadn’t seen in a long time.  I jumped up to give him a quick hug.  I whispered, “I’ve missed you so much.” But no words were necessary.  In that small moment, that small gesture, it was like Jesus was reminding me, “I see you.  I care, and I’m glad you’re here.”

Isn’t this part of what it means to be brothers and sisters in the body of Christ?  Showing up and being the visible reminder of God’s invisible presence?  Although there are times when all of us want to be anonymous, what struck me was the power of being noticed.  How many people do I walk by each day who are feeling left out and need to be reminded that they matter?  That God sees them and cares?

A mentor of ours said once that a leader is someone who walks more slowly through a room, noticing God and others rather than hurrying to the next task. 

Have you been in a situation when a hug from someone felt like a hug from Jesus?                                                                                                                                                   

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