It felt a little too on the nose to be coincidence, so I figured the Lord was providing an opportunity to share. My dental hygienist’s tools tapping away at my teeth made our conversation a bit more difficult for me, but maybe that was the Lord’s intention. She just kept talking as I sat in her chair, the captive and silent audience, sharing with me how she struggled to engage in community and grow friendships. And I’m just lying there, mouth conveniently agape, wondering at how wild it is that she is sharing this with me, a total stranger, yet the girl who spends so much of my time meditating on and speaking to the very challenges she is verbalizing.
“I don’t know why I don’t work harder at friendships,” she said, “but I just don’t.” Her outpouring trailed off into silence, finally trickling to an end.
As I considered what might have prompted my dental hygienist to share with me so authentically on such a random topic, it felt like such a window into the condition of so many in our world today. We live too busy, too distracted, too shallow, and too guarded to invest in friendships. And when we do occasionally stop to consider why we’re living lonely despite this not being how we truly want to live, we’re quickly pulled away from such unpleasant thoughts by the next shiny distraction luring us toward promised happiness.
“I don’t know why,” she said, “I just don’t.” I just don’t initiate opportunities for connection to maintain the friendships I do have. I just don’t check in on friends who’ve moved away to help those relationships endure. I just don’t pursue new potential friends because I’m too insecure, too busy, or just too tired to put forth that kind of social energy and effort.
I don’t know why.
But it makes me want to scream back – I know why! The enemy wants to keep you living lonely.
Alone you are vulnerable. Together you are supported.
Alone you are afraid. Together you are brave.
Alone the lies seem loud. Together they are called out.
Alone you lack vision. Together you walk on mission.
Alone we worry. Together, we bring praise and glory.
Obviously, the enemy prefers you alone. You’re more vulnerable there, without people to remind you of what’s true.
One such lie the enemy capitalizes on when we’re stuck living lonely, unsure of how to get out of this rut or of why we should even put in the effort to do so, is the lie that tells us that the good things in life should also be easy.
Perhaps because friendship was a given as school-aged children, we assume it will continue to be. And so we wait, giving all our attention to our jobs and our families and our hobbies and our entertainment, assuming friendships will somehow remain constant. And when we realize they haven’t, we shrug our shoulders and turn to easily-accessible digital dopamine to make us feel better about it.
At stilted breaks between rinse, suction, and open wide, I was able to talk to my hygienist a bit about why I think so many in our world today are caught in this toxic cycle of wishing for deeper friendships, yet doing nothing about it. I fished a Your Sister, Kimber invite card out of my bag as I vacated the chair, encouraging her to check it out as a free resource to help her grow in this area of her life. Maybe she did, or maybe she shrugged her shoulders and decided to remain stuck, mildly perplexed but entirely unmotivated to trade in her loneliness.
But you, my friend, you didn’t make that choice. You’re here – you’re reading – and I’m willing to bet you’re sick of living lonely.
See, what the enemy forgets is that, as much as loneliness can be a prison of our own making, when we wake up from this sleep-walk, it can also be a powerful catalyst to propel us toward the trade-in. I’m not sure how well I said it that day to my hygienist, but today, I say it clearly to you, friend: It is worth the effort. Worth the awkwardness. Worth shoving aside your insecurity. Worth asking the question. Worth initiating an invite. Worth showing up even if you don’t know how it’ll go. Because what’s on the other side is how you were meant to live: a life steeped in authentic community.
Today I invite you to consider that step toward friendship or community you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s messaging that girl you really respect about meeting up for coffee sometime. Maybe it’s showing up at the small group or Bible study you heard about. Maybe it’s a simple text to remind a distant friend she’s not forgotten. I’m confident you’ve got a move on your heart that it’s time to make. I promise, friend, it’s worth the effort.
Love ya, friend.
Your Sister, Kimber
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