Why You Feel Alone in a Crowded Room
“How did I ever find you people?” I asked sarcastically over our twenty-seventh game of Sequence this month.
“You didn’t find us, we found you!” she blurted out as more reckless laughter filled their kitchen.
A deep sigh escaped my lungs as a head-shaking smile of gratitude came across my face. There’s no feeling quite like it, like knowing and believing you belong.
This crazy family of five started out as just the nice folks I small talked with between church services. Then one fateful holiday a couple years back, I found my way into their living room amidst a cross fire of their probing questions and chocolate pie. I immediately knew something was different about them. I squinted as I gazed around the room trying to take it all in. It was something atypical but… endearing. Something almost magical.
Years into this thing, I have learned more from them than I could ever possibly say thank you for. Perhaps the most impacting piece of my education is how they do relationships. Real. Messy. Authentic. Despite my greatest efforts, there’s no avoiding it in their house. To an outsider their conversations sound a lot like an interrogation, but to the insider, it sounds (and feels) a lot like love.
“To an outsider their conversations sound a lot like an interrogation, but to the insider, it sounds (and feels) a lot like love.”
Loneliness has often checked in at the front desk of my existence. It seems to be a pandemic in our social media crazed culture and, like depression, tends to be a taboo topic only to be shared with therapists and late night bartenders. For a long time I thought maybe something was seriously wrong with me because even in a crowded room, I felt so alone.
In my 26.5 years on this crazy planet I have found that it is there, in a room filled with people I don’t know that I am most aware of my deepest desire to be known and belong. The anecdote to loneliness isn’t just being around other living organisms – it is found in a community of people who know your junk and (via sarcastic comments) love you anyway.
To find this, you’ll have to take some terrifying risks; you’ll have to be willing to meet new people and let them see your scars. You’re going to have to stay in it even when your mind is screaming that you should run. Worst of all, you’ll have to be ready to for the wrong people to take a sledgehammer to your trust. Cuz iz gonna happen. Yet, what waits for you on the other side of that discomfort is a type of love and acceptance you didn’t know was possible.
Yet, what waits for you on the other side of that discomfort is a type of love and acceptance you didn’t know was possible.
Sitting on their patio last summer, in the affectionate June sunshine, I waited for them to speak. “We need to talk,” they said on the phone. “Can you come over after church?”
My mind immediately raced through what I could have possibly done to make them angry.
“We just want you to know,” she paused as her voice cracked with deep emotion, “you’re one of us.” After another long pause she said, “we’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”
To be recklessly alive requires deep, meaningful relationships and the truth is, they’re crazy hard to find. Yet, when you start to discover those people and feel this type of belonging, you’ll see the kind of beautiful, messy, and authentic life that God created us for. And once you find that, there’s no going back.