Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lonely

One of my recent struggles is with the idea of "Doing Life Together". It is one of the things our church promotes as a key ingredient to living life the way the Bible tells us to. I love the idea of it and believe that God intended for us to be involved in each others' lives. Having a group of people that you REALLY feel connected with and that are there living life with you day to day. People you can call just because and people you see and fellowship with often. Friends who act as accountability partners who help each other grow in their relationship with Christ. Sounds great right?

The thing is that Howard and I are finding this a hard thing to do. I have been in a funk lately and I think it stems from feeling secluded and disconnected. Basically I am lonely. We do have many friends whom we love and we know would be there for us in a moment if we need them, don't get me wrong. Through the darkest moments of our lives there have been people willing to carry us and make us feel as loved as we have ever felt. During my pregnancy with Asher I honestly had never felt more loved and cared for in my life.

It was a fantastic feeling, and honestly we were designed to need each other. We are having a really hard time though finding a way to live this out in daily life. Not just in times of crisis, but in the daily hum drum life. We have been a part of a couple of small groups that have been great but eventually dynamics change within the group and as people live their lives it seemingly just becomes too tough to get together regularly.

One of our issues here I believe is that the church we attend, though a FANTASTIC church is not in our own community. SO no matter what, when getting together with others from our church either we are traveling or we are asking others to travel a good 30 minutes and it seems in every ones SUPER busy lives that is just not realistic. (thought that is another of my issues lately...should we be SOO busy that we cannot take the time to make group life a priority? UGH! That is for another day!)

For a little while now Howard and I have been struggling with the idea of finding a new church in OUR community or just starting doing "house church". The thing is that we really love our church. We love the teaching, the friends we have made and the children's ministry. Yet we are finding it unrealistic to be TRULY connected because of the distance. The kids are not going to Sunday school with their school friends and the friends we have at church we see only on Sundays. We are starting to feel like authentic community can't be felt this way. SO we are torn between leaving a church we really love and finding community out here in the boondocks or continuing with the church we love and feeling disconnected and lonely. UGH!

I would love to hear what you all do for "small group", "group life" or just to feel connected. Do you attend church within your own community or do you travel? What is your take on group life?


23 comments:

Jeff Warner said...

Hey Kristy,
I have been reading your blog for since you were waiting for Happy's birth...I am also a mother of five children and our youngest was born just a week after your sweet Hope. We attend Life Church.tv which is much like your church or so it sounds. It may be your church who knows :) Our Life Group meets on Wednesdays and I think the groups are incredible, it takes awhile to find the right group, but once you are there the level of openness and honesty has been wonderful and really has deepened my relationship as a wife, follower of Christ, mother and friend. I will pray that you and Howard find just that group! Wendy

Meg said...

This is something my best friend and I were talking about over the weekend and then again last night. I was saying how since last winter I have felt disconnected and very alone. My friend was expressing something similar but different and through our talking we realized we were missing a cohesive group (aka community, chosen family etc).

We used to do a group thing every Tuesday night (whoever could make it) to play scrabble and catch up. Then due to various circumstances that fell away and when it did...I found my world getting smaller and harder to live in. Why? Because I missed my cohesive group - my community - of chosen family (aka close friends). After having a bout of illness last year (two surgeries)...I felt isolated...even living in such a large city and having many friends...I felt alone and isolated. From this discussion, my friend decided she would be intentional in creating a cohesive group through having Sunday (family) Dinners...it would be done on a whim...a notice would go out via email and people will show up with food between a set time. This will allow anyone to come who could and it will vary each time it occurs.

So the first one is this sunday and I am unsure if I can make it but I am going to try! And I am going to make this a regular part in my life! I also know though I need to create (belong) to something sometimes in order to really feel that connectivity.

So I understand. As relationships happen, then families it is harder and harder to connect (in my case especially because I am single)...it is hard to find and create the community you desire whether in the boondocks or in a city!

Hugs and good luck. It sounds like you have some good ideas on how to create community for yourselves now it is just figuring out which one is best!

Heather said...

I'm wondering where you are from. I'm in the EXACT situation. Our church is 30 minutes away, and we just couldn't connect, AND our church's theme is "doing life together." So, we are looking for a church closer to home. Especially with young children, we need close support and people who live close to be in fellowship with. I get SO lonely with just the kids and I (though they are the lights of my life).
I'm really missing the old church because I went there for over 6 years, but right now, we need some adult friendships and fellowship!

Jenn said...

My husband and I felt the same way when the girls were younger. We tried different churches, etc. but never got that "community" feel we needed. Then our oldest began Kindergarten and I joined the PTO and became a girl scout leader!! Before long, I started recognizing people in the community while out shopping, or we'd run into a fellow PTO mom while on a trip to the apple orchard, etc. Our worlds changed from our micro family to this huge community of people!

Before long we were going on numerous playdates, scrapbooking parties and BBQ's. We finally felt like part of the "bigger whole".

The best advice I can give you is to branch out. Church, while great, isn't the only connection you have to the community. Volunteer or join a mommy and me club. Anything to start meeting new people who are in the same life stage as you (parents with young kids). Have the boys join soccer or go to swim lessons. Before long, you'll start meeting more and more people and they'll add to your circle. Most will just be the ones you stop and say hello to, but a few will connect with you and (god willing) become near and dear to your heart.

Now, get out there and show the world how great you and your family are!

P.S. If you go to Vistaprint.com you can make (for FREE) playdate cards for your family. Think businees cards, but with your family's info (maybe even your blog address) that you give to your new friends if they mention a playdate or a get together. I read about this idea a few years ago in a parenting magazine and immediately got them for our family. (you don't need to put your address if that worries you, just your email and phone numbers and names) Every time we're at a school function and my daughter introduces me to a friend and her family and the girls want to get together, I hand the family a card. I give them out their teachers too. It's an easy and convienent way for people to reach out to you.

Wendy said...

I need a group. As sad as it is, you can go to any church and walk out without anyone saying hi to you. I just think we are all to busy to notice those around us and yes that goes for church too. I'm guilty of ushering my children out the door Sunday after church because we have too much to do. I don't stop and stick around and chat with anyone.

My kids belong to the junior youth group and this church with their school friends and LOVE LOVE it!It encourages them to go to church and my son just soaks up the sermon even though at first he didn't want to go!

But I felt super lonely a few years ago. It was a horrible feeling. I ended up joining PTO and all the sudden I had a great group of friends. It even helped my husband. He is now best friends with my best friends husbands. It is a great feeling. I'm now a cub scout leader. A room mother, I sit and chat with the other daisy mom's while we wait for our daughters.

I've also been told, if you aren't happy maybe it is time to find that church that is for you. Your church may be a wonderful church but it isn't meeting your needs at this moment and if it isn't, it is OK to move on.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Hey, we were in a similar situation 2 yrs ago. We LOVED the church we were going to but it was 30 min away and we just never got involved. What was the turning point for us was when our oldest went to Kindergarten and we couldn't go to the Cubbies program because we didn't get home until close to 9pm and our son would get to sleep at 9:30 at night on Wed. Just not workable for young school kids. So we thought we can either stop going to everything except for Sun mornings or we can switch churches. My son also complained that he didn't have any friends at church and they all seemed to know eachother, except him. He was right because they all saw each other several times a week and at school. So it was becoming a source of stress for our children. We did switch to a church just a few miles from our house and while the childrens program is not what it was at the other church, it is Biblical and the preaching is Biblical so we have been attending there for 2 yrs and are so happy we did. Oour kids look forward to going to church now b/c they feel comfortable there. And we've just tried to do what we can to make the kids program better. We teach one of the kids classes now and we feel like we are trying to be part of the solution to make the kids program what it could be. Still not where the other church was but again, it was either that or we were not a part of any real community at all. So we are happy for this right now. Hope that helps. will be praying.

Jess said...

Hi, Kristy.

I don't have a solution for you, but I just wanted to say that I really appreciate you bringing the subject up; My husband and I are in the exact same situation. Please do share with us what you decide is best for you and your family. It appears from the comments above that lots of us are in (or have been) in the same place!

Blessings,
Jessica

Susie said...

We're currently attending a church that is in the central business district of our city - so it's about 10 minutes from our house. Our Life Group just multiplied, but instead of going one street over, we go one street up now. Are there a lot of people spread out in your church family? Is it possible for you to start a Life Group for people who live in your area?

Oceana's the only one who's not in preschool out of all her church friends, but they all go to the same Christian preschool, so when we get together they all know each other and roll like the best of friends. I love that.

Hope that you can find something that works for your family!

Christa @ Quintooples said...

You are always welcome at the Fed, and Matt would LOVE to have help with the Children's ministry, which is THRIVING with the re-birth of the bus ministry. ;)

Josh works with SALT and I know they need more help too (Students after school learning truth), after school Tues and thursdays...and Josh takes Reagan.

We are not plugged in as a couple right now due to the triplets, and the demands of that....but we will be again at some point! :)

Rebekah said...

We've driven 30 minutes to attend church in the past before too and we've attended churches close to home. I connected more with the people at the church I drove the distance to but you're right- it was hard to be totally involved (and we didn't have kids to get ready & take either). I don't really know though... there are times when I feel lonely in a group full of people... and I don't think the feeling is all that uncommon. It's hard to find people that you can connect to on so many levels and in all aspects of life. I've always felt this way to some extent but I think especially now that I've buried a child. So many people don't understand and it can feel alienating. The internet is great but there's nothing like a flesh and blood person in front of you to connect to. I hope you find a place you truly love. It took us a while to find the church we're currently attending and while I don't connect to alot of the members there are enough there that I do.

Anonymous said...

do you realize my dear how often you complain?

Shari said...

I guess I don't understand why traveling 30 minutes to or from church or groups would separate people? I think it all boils down to priorities and what people put first. We live over 30 minutes from our church and are very connected. In fact, we have never lived closer than that to any church we've attended. I hope it gets resolved and let the Lord direct. I know you know that!

boltefamily said...

Anonymous,

I am sorry you got "complain" from this post. It was not meant that way. I was simply sharing on MY blog my current struggles. I will admit, I am in a place right now where God is really pressing me and it is a bit uncomfortable. I am working through a lot of junk, but my goal here was not to complain, merely to share my struggle and see if anyone had the same struggle and what works for them.

I also have to say though that this is MY blog. MY place to come and share my struggles and my joys. I get negative comments if it is all joy because those grieving don't want to come here and share in my joy and I get negative comments if I "complain" about my struggles.

I am learning that I don't really have to worry about pleasing others this is my life, there are seasons of great struggle and seasons of great joy and a lot of time where the two are intermingled. The only One I have to worry about pleasing is God, and sometimes I have to write out my struggles to help me work through them. I am thankful so many come here to read and support me, but if this blog irritates you with my "complaining", you are free to find another blog to read.

Amber said...

I am so glad that you are real about your life. I hope that you find a solution to your church sitution. My husband and I are in a similar situation right now. It must be more common than we think.

KK said...

My natural tendency is to be alone, but I make myself join groups because it blesses me and I know God did not put me here to stay inside! Its hard for me though, especially finding a new group. I'll pray you find a group closer to home. Is the church big enough to look around and see if anyone else is closer to where you live? Even if its only one family, they may be feeling the same way.

Kenzie said...

Hey girl, I love you and this indeed IS your blog. We lived a good 30 minutes from our church the second year Dusty and I were married and even that was hard... without kids. We traveled 3-4 times a week "in town" to hang out with friends and we did feel disconnected even though I was working. I would TOTALLY encourage you to at least visit other churches that are closer or as another commenter said, see if there are other families that attend that church that live out by y'all. I just know that there is NO WAY that I would be able to stay home and do all that I do, trying to be a Godly mother and wife, if I didn't have the support of my close friends locally. I love you girl and will pray over this for you! Can't believe how fast our girls are growing...

Melissa said...

Funny how the hateful comment is always from "anonymous".

My husband and I were in the same situation when we were first married. We actually moved to be closer to our church and church family. It worked for us, but I know it might be too drastic of a change for others.

Stephanie said...

Kristy,

I've been a reader for sometime, but have rarely commented. Today, this post struck me...your words are my exact thoughts about my families current situation. Thank you for sharing so honestly and truthfully.

My husband and I haven't come to a decision on what to do, but are constantly praying about it. I know, in HIS time, God will convict us in a way that leads us to make the right decision!

Much love and prayers!

Ellen said...

We attend a small church only about 15 minutes away but a couple towns over. It is my husbands childhood church and we just love the pastor but this church has no childrens programs. In fact it really has no children other then my son and one other boy who is thankfully my sons age. All the people who attend either babysat my husband or gave him lessons as a kid of somekind such as horseback riding lessons. In other words the church member average an age of about 60/70! Nice people and all, just wish the church had younger people and some kids and kids programs!

I know what you mean about people being too busy to be able to get together with each other. I see my brother maybe once a year, and I see my sister, maybe 10-20 times a year. I'm jealous of family and friends who constantly make time for each other and not just in emgerencies!

My husband and I have thought about switching to the church in our town that is only 5 minutes or less away from my house. But we love the pastor at the church we attend now. Hard decisions to make!

Becky said...

We too went through a time when we chose to travel to attend a church not in our community - about 30-40 minutes away. We chose it because of the Spiritual food we were getting when we desperately needed it and the love and acceptance we felt. We did choose to return on Sunday nights and also on Wednesday evenings - we had up to 10 children, 7 of which were foster kids. We felt that was our mission field and that we needed to be faithful to church- not only on Sunday mornings. It was sometimes tough, but never felt like a sacrifice.

After attending there for 5-6 years, some needs that we had changed - we needed a strong youth group - hence we found a wonderful church within our community.

Changing churches is so tough. I am thankful that we have only had to make that decision twice. I encourage you to pray - make sure it is His will, not yours.

The first time we changed due to doctrinal differences and two of our foster children were moving into a pre-adoptive situation with a family there - it would not have been healthy for us to be together.
God led us to our new church in such a unique and direct way. He likewise has the perfect place for your family!

Erin said...

I've just read your blog a few times, but feel led to share. We, too, have done the travel to church thing. And while also a wonderful church it didn't work for community. We now attend a much smaller church with almost no "programs" except life group. Our group is people from very near us and is all generations - newly married, young families, and older couples. We just read a wonderful book called "The Connecting Church" which is all about this subject. I highly recommend it to you. Not all the parts are applicable to us, but we took some really helpful things from it.

So, all that to say... I think you should find a church nearer to home. Then your church friends are more likely to be nearby and you can really share life together! Blessings to you. :)

Inkling said...

I am so with you on this post!!!! We have a very similar issue. Our church meets halfway between two towns, but most of our friends are in the town across the river from us. We did join a homegroup for folks in our town, and that is helping, though they are all at least ten years older than us. People are too busy here, and they seem to have extended family all living nearby, so much of their "free" time goes to family events. Since my family is over 2,000 miles away and my husband is not close with his family (not for lack of trying), we not only don't have that option, but our friends forget that we don't have the resource of family.

I think I've finally decided that it is going to take me teaching my church community how to have real community, how to meet practical needs, and how to build friendships. They are totally willing to pray for me at prayer group or over the phone, but very few are wiling to help meet tangible needs or just call me to chat to relieve some of the intense loneliness I feel.

Our area is known for "church hopping" - it is the Bible belt of Canada with many churches. I get close to people at our church, and then they end up leaving to try the next church down the road. It drives me nuts and makes me sad. And while I would love to find a church that is structurally set up to help us out in our current health crisis that has been going on for nine months now, my husband and I have chosen to stay where we are simply because we want to show those around us that church hopping isn't the answer to a lack of community. (But, oh, how I wish it could be our answer sometimes!!!!)

Honestly, I think we Christians are missing out on what Jesus intended for His Bride to look like. I saw a bit of what it should look like when I watched my brother and his wife go through the loss of a child this month. Their church is amazing. It's from watching them that I've decided I'm only going to get what I long for if I slowly try to teach my own community through example. In other words.....community for us is only going to come through a lot of hard, lonely work.

The Pelhams said...

We travel. We drive about 15 miles which takes us about 30 minutes to get to church in a suburb of our city. We have small group 2 Sundays a month from 4-6pm and we rotate between everyone's house. We have everyone choose a Sunday that they can host it at their place and we just keep doing that through the year. We also rotate each month between a girls night out and a guys night out. So for the month of November it is girls night out, so at group we talk about which night of the month works for everyone and then decide what to do. We have gone out to supper and then coffee, a scrap-booking night at someones house, ordered in pizza and played 20 questions. Anything we can think of to fellowship and have fun with each other! The guys have gone to a hockey game, baseball game, gone to a video game place called InPlay to play video games, bowling, and just went to someones house and played Wii and ordered pizza. We love it and we still feel connected. We are doing life together and it is nice that we rotate houses so there are weeks we don't have to travel. We are pretty committed though and rarely miss a Sunday and my kids are also in AWANA every week and I am a teacher. I don't know how far away you are from your church so I don't know how far you drive, but I guess if you find a church and group you love, it isn't too hard to stay committed to it!