In this first week, the overwhelming problem that kept coming in was loneliness. I thought about how caring the women participating in this blog have been, how wise, and I am praying we will be a help by speaking comfort and truth in love. I’m counting on you! It did occur to me that a lack of response would exacerbate loneliness, so I’m pleading. I also know there are many many lonely people reading this blog, longing for help.
WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES ISOLATE YOU
When you move to a new city where you don’t know anyone, when you go to a new church where people already have their friends, or when you are divorced or widowed, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by loneliness. I’m beginning with this letter from a woman who seems like she would be a terrific friend, yet circumstances have isolated her. I’m calling her “Ellen.”
I am recently widowed. My husband of 41 years died of metastic prostratic Cancer a year ago. It was a long 3 year journey to his Homecoming. As I hear it is common with primary caregivers, relationships seem to have disappeared in that journey.
I feel like I have a clean blank slate and am virtually starting over in most areas of my life. I have sold my house and downsized to a smaller house in a new neighborhood. I have joined a new church which I really enjoy, but they have virtually nothing going on for widows. I do attend an evening Bible study there. I work two days a week for a non-profit as a nurse and I am starting my own home-based business from home, so don’t have a lot of time. But I sure would enjoy a Christian gal friend or two. Everyone seems so busy and wrapped up in their own lives. My two best friends live out of state. One is getting remarried this month and for obvious reasons isn’t very available even by phone. The thing I miss most is someone to share my heart with. I am at a loss as how to get past a surfacy relationship to where sisters can share each others burdens. Actually, to be real honest, I’m having trouble even cultivating a surfacy relationship with anyone.
So how do I make some new friends? I wish there was something like “Christianfriendshipmatch.com”!!!
I loved “Ellen’s” letter and hope she will feel free to participate this week too.
“Ellen’s” situation is primarily circumstantial. Sometimes life takes a turn that isolates you. You move to a different state, far away from family and friends. In her situation, being the primary caregiver for her husband meant her fellowship with friends had to go on a back burner for three years, and essentially, the fires went out. The pot is cold. Now she has had to move to a new home, a new neighborhood, and a new church. Pray and see if the Lord gives you wisdom to share with Ellen. I also have a Bible study the might give wisdom. Share as you feel led. I will too. We live in a world where circumstantial loneliness is common, and will probably affect most of us at some time.
1. Think of a time when you may have experienced circumstantial loneliness — where it was not because of a disagreement with friends, or inordinate shyness, or the fact that you might be abrasive, but the circumstances of life have swooped you up and left you solitary. How did you feel?
2. Did any of you do something that led to a change in your circumstances? If so, what?
3. Mary, Ruth, and Jonathan were all “isolated” for different circumstantial reasons. As you study the friendships of Mary and Elizabeth, Ruth and Naomi, and Jonathan and David, see if you can discover a common thread. Write down anything you can glean about why they might have been isolated, and what they did. (You may have to read some context. Be good detectives.)
A What did Mary do in Luke 1:39? (How far did she travel? What else do you see in this verse?)
B. What do you learn about Ruth in Ruth 1:16-17; and Ruth 2:11?
C. Describe what Jonathan did in 1 Samuel 18:1-2?
4. What common thread do you see? How might this apply to someone like Ellen?
5. Ellen likes her church, but it is not meeting her friendship needs. What might she do within the church to possibly lead to change? What groups might she look for outside the church?
6. What can Ellen’s letter teach us who are secure in a group of friends? If Christ is burning in our hearts, how might we respond to the Ellen’s in our path?
7. What will you remember from this week for yourself?
Next week we will look at a letter from a woman isolated in Alaska — both by circumstances, but also, and this is an important issue, by the fact that she has had strong disagreements with her friends. What do we do when we are separated by seeing life differently than our friends?