If You’re Feeling Lonely? This Post is For You.

March 2, 2015 | 70 comments

I spent the past weekend with about a hundred Jesus-sisters at a retreat center a few miles south of our farm. We call it The Hill. For three days we hang out in a retreat center, set among the trees. We drive up there — up from our valleys — seeking to set our hinds’ feet on high places.

I have been in a very busy season of speaking at retreats, but for the first time in a long time, I never once held a microphone over the weekend. I had come to this retreat only to serve our guests in a support role. Which means, I prayed a lot. I washed dishes and served meals and swept floors and knelt on a prayer bench and slept on the top bunk and giggled ridiculously loud and stayed up far too late and nibbled on dark chocolate. I cried. I danced and jumped so much that I wish I had brought Depends. I reconnected with old friends in meaningful ways. It was all good — except for the Depends part.

I texted a friend about my weekend this morning. Like me, she’s an author and speaker at Christian events, and knows both the blessings and the pitfalls of being the speaker in the spotlight, especially in this culture of “Christian celebrity” — two words that couldn’t be more dangerously paired. My friend told me that my weekend was “kind of like a vaccine against developing a diva heart.” I loved that.

But here’s what else it was: a vaccine against loneliness.

I don’t like to talk about it, but over the last several years, I have experienced painful seasons of loneliness. And during those seasons, the enemy makes me think it’s because I’m not “enough.” My inner critic buys into the lie that I’m not fun enough, kind enough, friend enough. And there have been painful disconnections from people in my local life who treat me differently than they used to because I wrote a book and speak about Jesus as a part of a growing and active ministry. I have fat tears rolling down my cheeks as I write those words. Because the separation hurts. (I am tempted to delete those words. We’ll see if they stay in the final draft.)

I want you to know this. I am still me, the same Jennifer who desires deep heart connection. I am still me, the same Jennifer who needs someone to encourage her, just as I pour out encouragement to others. I am a human with real hurts and heart needs. I am still me, struggling with brokenness, and like you, I need girlfriends to sit down with me in my mess, and help me pick up the pieces. Just because I hold a microphone and talk about Jesus, doesn’t mean I’m any different from you. I don’t have all the answers.

I desire deep connection. Like you, I need someone who will ask me how I’m doing, and then stick around to hear the long answer.

IMG_6459-(in)courage_ARRetreat
IMG_6206-(in)courage_ARRetreat

 (Above three photos are from a separate event, held last summer in Arkansas.)

 

I learned this weekend that I’m not the only one who needs heart sisters.

Through tears, so many women I met are feeling a hollowness on the inside. They feel isolated and cut off.

Loneliness envelops people in their beds at night, and then first thing in the morning. It strikes them in the silence of their marriages, and the noise of their toddler-filled house. Loneliness sits beside women on the back pew, the gymnasium bleachers, the holiday parties.

Pastors’ wives and women in ministry feel loneliness in profoundly painful ways. I talked with one woman in ministry who said that friends will sit with her at the baseball game, but won’t invite her and her husband to the gathering afterward because beer or wine might be served.

Like all of us, she wants to be invited.

Just because we love Jesus, doesn’t mean we will judge what’s on your table or poured into your glass. And in fact, we might actually enjoy the wine you serve!

I learned a few things about loneliness this weekend.

1 – Loneliness is pervasive. I heard those words again and again: “I feel so lonely.” We are living in a time of a strange, relational paradox: We have more opportunities to be networked than ever before, but are feeling more disconnected than we’ve ever felt. Our web of connections grows ever wider … and ever shallower. And what people see of us is our carefully managed, projected identities. I wonder if vulnerability might be the first step out of loneliness. 

2 – Loneliness is not Facebook’s fault. This is not something that Facebook is doing to us; it’s something we’re doing to ourselves. This isn’t an external problem, but an internal condition that we THINK Facebook can fix. You can have a thousand Facebook friends, and be the loneliest person you know. You can be standing among 100 people and still feel miserable and unseen. And your inner critic will tell you it’s because you’re incapable of contributing to the conversation, or being the kind of friend that someone would seek. Don’t believe the lies. Believe again that you are beloved. 

3 – God does not desire for us to feel lonely. God, in his His nature, is three-in-one community. While he wants us to turn to Him first in those times we feel alone, He is the author of community. Friendship was God’s idea! “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. … I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” (From John 15:12-14, The Message)

4 – The cure for loneliness is “going first.” We need to be the friend that we desire to have. Instead of waiting to be invited, we can be the inviter. Instead of wishing that we were at the table, we can invite someone to ours. We can Go First. This year, I’ve adopted an unofficial self-care project called “52 Lunches.” I am having one lunch with one person, every week, for the year of 2015. This isn’t called “52 Women.” That’s because I will likely have lunch with the same woman multiple times. The project is more about depth, than breadth. I desire deep connection, just like you.

5 – God sees us. God hears our prayers, even when we feel very alone. So can I pray for you?

Dear God, I thank you for the person reading these words today. You know her needs, her heart, her own feelings of disconnection. I pray today that You will draw her close, and that you will bring people into her life, face-to-face. I also pray that you let her know that her loneliness is not because of some personality deficit. We all feel that hollowness! We all long for connection. Give each of the women reading these words today the courage to go first. Someone is waiting for these women to go first and make the call. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Do you feel alone? What do you think the cure for loneliness is?

 

 

by | March 2, 2015 | 70 comments

70 Comments

  1. Sharon O

    the cure is to reach out. that is the hardest part though, when one is ‘sad and alone’ but it must happen. i tell you i am guilty of not reaching out. love this challenge.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      It is hard to take that first step, isn’t it, Sharon. I was talking with a friend today about this issue, and she shared how she HAS taken that first step, and invited two close friends to lunch, but has been told “no” so many times due to their busy-ness, that she is reluctant to keep asking. But I don’t know what else we can do, other than to continue to try to be the inviters. xo

      Reply
  2. Jeannie Pallett

    It’s so important that we find our worth in Jesus and realize how much He wants to spend time with us since He is the Ultimate Need Meeter. Real life is lived in real life! It’s easy enough to look at all the FB pictures of women gathering together and sharing smiles, laughter, tears and deep sharing and feel left out…but FB and social media is not our real life. Where my feet are planted is the best place to sow seeds of friendship, to be brave enough to voice the first hello. After all, Jesus came to make us brave – not safe! The best cure for loneliness is to get social in real life! I love your idea of 52 lunches! Being content in the knowledge of who we are in Christ will help a great deal in not feeling lonely too as we will have the confidence to Go First!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for sharing, Jeannie. I’ve been loving my lunches. Such a great place to connect — over the table.

      Reply
    • Marni Gallerneault

      Ty so much for these words. It’s easy to forget that those FB pics aren’t ‘real life’ … people don’t take pics of the meltdown their kid is having when you’re cooking supper, or when your hair and makeup isn’t all done up pretty lol. Much needed reminder to root ourselves first in Jesus, ty.

      Reply
  3. Karen

    A number of years ago, God began to show me how pervasive this was especially among women who serve in leadership positions…pastors’/elders’wives, staff members, Bible study leaders, non profits leaders….. It has become my calling and passion to minister and pour in to them. I cannot pour in to and make a difference in all of them, but I can pour in to and make a difference in the ones with whom HE crosses my path!

    I LOVE the 52 lunch idea!!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hey Karen! Do you have any advice for any of us (me and my readers) on how we can pour into the lives of clergy spouses in particular?

      Reply
      • Karen

        Here are some simple and easy things that go SUCH a LONG WAY!
        1. Commit to pray for her REGULARLY, do it, ….and let her know. Offer her the opportunity to share specific requests, but pray for her whether she feel comfortable enough to share or not.
        2. Send a hand written note or text of encouragement….just because you were thinking about HER!
        3. If you are attending the same women’s function, invite her to sit with you. Chances are she is one of the ones coming who feels out of place…though her face would never reveal that.
        4. If given the privilege of of being a confidante, ALWAYS hold her heart words close!
        5. Never ask her to pass along messages to her husband, the pastor/elder.
        6. Love and cheer for her with tangible means of grace and don’t expect anything in return.
        7. Invite her to have coffee or go to lunch with no agenda other than to get to know her. If she declines your invitation the first time, take no offense. Wait a few weeks and try again
        8. Be in it for the long haul. Unfortunately, many of these precious women have been hurt by “the body” and it will take time to build a relationship.

        I could go on…but this is a great way to get started! 🙂

        Reply
        • Jolene Underwood

          Keeping this list Karen. Thank you for sharing! This has been on my heart for years. I wish we’d go well beyond Pastor Appreciation month and share love and support to our pastors and their wives. May we as women embrace the woman married to a pastor, who is her own unique person with real challenges. Bless you Karen!

          Reply
          • Karen

            YES! These things also apply to female clergy! They are in an even more isolated “boat”!

  4. Kris Camealy

    Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. What a much needed word for us today. xxoo

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Kris. Miss you, friend.

      Reply
  5. beth_e

    Well, Jennifer, I feel as if you’ve been looking over my shoulder. I laid in bed last night, crying and praying, asking God to please send me a friend…someone with whom I can share my heart, invite to lunch, pray, join for walks in the park, shop, etc. I work in a church…the same church we attend. That presents problems you’ve already mentioned. No one calls my home unless it’s church business…I’m not seen as anything but a church employee. Our youngest son has graduated college, is seeking employment, and will soon be moving out. My husband has a lawn care business (in addition to his regular job) and mowing season is quickly approaching. That means I won’t see him until 9:30-9:30 each evening. I get so lonely I can hardly stand it. I live in a small town, and not many new people move here. The ones already living here grew up here, their family members are here, and they all are close and connected with each other. They don’t really open up to allow new people in. We’ve lived here 20 years, but I still feel like an outsider. I have a precious friend who lives in another state, but our homes are about seven hours apart. I have plenty of acquaintances in my area, but can’t say I’m close to anyone. I can’t remember a time when I’ve felt more alone.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Beth. My heart aches with yours. Now that I am in ministry, I have a bit more of a window into what people on church staff feel. Not to say that I can relate in every way, but I certainly empathize with your situation. I’m joining your prayer, in asking God to bring a friend into your life. You are such a treasure, Beth. I wish I could take long lunches with you! xo

      Reply
      • beth_e

        I would love to take long lunches with you, too, Jennifer. I truly appreciate your prayers!

        Reply
    • Karen

      Oh Beth! I am praying for you right now!!!!! May I encourage you to reach out to another woman serving at possibly a different church? You might find a kindred spirit… Someone who understands the loneliness of this kind of ministry. I am praying for a friend and for you to have wisdom and courage in finding her.

      Reply
      • beth_e

        Thank you, Karen. I don’t know any of the other women serving in different churches, but that is a good idea. I will definitely work on that!

        Reply
        • Karen

          There may be some “false” starts and stops, but I can almost guarantee that there is a precious sister in your area who is also longing for connection. I have some ideas for how you might do that and would love to email with you should you desire. You can contact me at 4onepurpose@swissmail.org Blessings, dear Beth!

          Reply
    • Connie

      Beth, I am so sorry. I know what it is like to be an outsider. I lived in small town and feel unacceptable. I m sure I am the problem but it is lonely. I am so sorry.

      Reply
  6. Katie Andraski

    You too? I’ve felt that way too, especially the local disconnections, and just plain feeling like I’m always on the outside of a group and not knowing what to make of it, whether it’s a gift or failing or both. I turn to Facebook because it blocks the rumination by giving me other people’s thoughts to think about. Well, I hope those disconnections turn back into connections for you. And that those 52 lunches are rich, good times with good food and good people. What a great idea, though these days who has time? Well, peace of the Lord be with you always.

    Reply
  7. Michele Morin

    I’m sure a number of us are having a “you too?” moment here. Seems as if our default is to isolate ourselves. If we’re successful or if we’re feeling like a failure. If we’re “in ministry” or if we’re surrounded by a houseful of “little ministries” 24-7. It is so risky to be vulnerable, to risk the kind of sharing and availability that makes for a lasting friendship. There are no easy answers here, but I love your advice to “go first.”

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Michelle. I feel rather short on answers here. Just sort of muddling through. Thanks for muddling with me. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Tracey Lynne

    Quit spying on me! 😉 Precious words and so very true! Thank, thank you, thank you!

    Reply
  9. Angela Nazworth

    Oh friend … I needed every word of this. Thank you.

    Reply
  10. Jennifer Frisbie

    Oh, Jennifer, this is one of my most favorite posts yet! I’ve felt this loneliness. So many times over in this past…nearly two years now.

    Big change is coming at my house. Two and a half months until it sheds skin and shows us what’s underneath. I’m excited. I’m at peace. I’m scared. I’m wishing I could see around the corner. As you can tell, I’m a little bit of everything. And through all of that it can be especially lonely. Not everyone understands. Some people think I’m crazy. I keep telling God that I trust Him. And I do… But it certainly doesn’t make the loneliness any easier.

    I’m going to remember those words. “Go first.” Even then, I know He is going with me.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Praying for you tonight, Jennifer, as you face big changes. xo

      Reply
  11. Holley Gerth

    Oh, I can so relate to these words. So grateful for the friend and heart sister you are to me!

    Reply
  12. Paige Estes

    Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. I am definitely going through a lonely season and it DOES make me feel not… “enough.” I feel like I don’t have much in common with the women at my church. I know I belong because of who I belong to, but authentic friendships are hard found at the moment. My family doesn’t really fit the mold within those walls yet I do want to be a part of the body of Christ and to worship where two or more are gathered. My ministry right now doesn’t have a title or an agenda. Its being fully present and sharing Jesus’s love where I am right now. I pray people will see past the ministry and see Jennifer too. I’m so glad you had a good weekend. Thanks for showing me today that there are some kindred spirits, even if they aren’t in my day to day.

    Reply
  13. Dede

    I’m sorry you are being treated differently by people now that you have written a book. I’m sure that’s hard.

    I wanted to let you and Anna know how much I enjoyed the 28 days of true love. I read the scripture listed for each day and wrote a short prayer for it. I appreciated the time and effort you put into it.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Dede! I’m glad you enjoyed the 28 days of true love. We hope to do another project like that very soon. God bless you, Dede!

      Reply
  14. Paula Gamble

    Thank you for writing in your vulnerability, Jennifer. I know loneliness well, but reaching out has been vital for me.

    Reply
  15. Dianewbailey

    Thank you for opening your heart Jennifer and being brave with the truth. You write so beautifully what so many feel and might be afraid say.

    Yes, there are so very many women suffering with loneliness. I wish the answer were as easy as sitting in chairs on the front porch and calling to those who might pass by, “Come over and sit for a time. Let’s talk.”

    Reply
  16. Jolene Underwood

    So much beauty and tenderness here Jennifer. I love this piece tremendously. Thank you for your honesty. I understand what you are saying for different reason and it’s what compels me to love and give. To choose bitterness and isolation just isn’t an option for me. They are far too suffocating. By going first the enemy loses ground on our heart battles. We step forward in faith bit by bit. We are strengthened by walking with the Spirit who gives us strength & guidance. Amen, Amen, Amen to all you said here. And girl, keep pressing in and carrying on as He leads! The light of Christ shines brightly through you.

    Reply
  17. Kelly

    Jennifer, what you have written today resonates with me greatly. Thank you. Especially at the end of your post when you talk about being the friend you want to have. I find that often times I am the person inviting someone else to have coffee, lunch, dinner, whatever it may be. However, it does “get the ball rolling.” God is teaching me that not everyone is a “inviter” and some never will be. Yet they are some of the people I enjoy most. I’m learning to let God use me in the ways that he wants and not just sit back and wait for others to jump in. I never want to be a spectator friend.

    Reply
  18. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful, heartfelt words with us, Jennifer! I’m so glad that you left those words in the final draft because it is so important that we share our vulnerabilities so that we can relate to one another in fellowship and in encouragement. May we all seek to be a blessing to one another by inviting one another into our lives and into our hearts. Blessings to you and yours.

    Reply
  19. Leigh Kay

    “Our web of connections grows ever wider … and ever shallower.”

    Miss Jennifer, you speak so eloquently on such a prickly topic. And you are correct. There are many who feel this. No one stands alone in these tumults of fear and solitude. Thank you for your words. With all my soul, with an understanding spirit – thank you.

    Reply
  20. Michelle Anderson

    52 lunches. This is pure genius. I think I will steal this genius idea from you Jennifer. I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

    Reply
  21. Karen

    I wish I could make a lunch date with you! You are so real and transparent and that is what I long for in friends. No judgement, just people to do life with, and love me for who I am. Thank you for sharing your heart, I pray you find those friends where you are,and I pray I’m the kind of friend that others need.

    Reply
  22. Tammy Brouwer

    I can relate with this in so many ways. I’ve been a youth pastor’s wife, pastor’s wife, and currently a missionary wife since I was 19. I am currently finding that this season of my life is very lonely. Our two boys are grown and living in America with their own families. How I long to hold my two granddaughters, one of whom was born two months ago and I’ve not been able to hold. Our youngest daughter is in another country attending missionary boarding school. Most of the year we have an empty nest. Most of the missionaries here have young families and they don’t think to invite me to their kid’s birthday parties, homeschool activities, play dates, etc. Its so hard to hear them talk about the fun they had at the pool last week when I’ve been sitting at home longing for a friend to chat with. On Sunday we were unexpectedly invited to a friend’s home for a short visit. I didn’t share with her all I’m going through, but I did ask her if it would be ok if I joined their bi-weekly homeschool activities. She was happy that I would want to come. Then I asked another friend to lunch. I also went yesterday to meet a new missionary lady who just moved to our town. She is my age and also has an empty nest. Who knows, maybe she will be the friend I’ve prayed for! Jennifer, your words spoke what God has been speaking to my heart about. You know how we say, “I wish God would write me a letter telling me what to do.” Well, I think He just did. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Karen

      Tammy, fantastic! I have learned that people often “assume” we don’t want to be invited because we are in different life stages and there is no “malice” ever intended. You have taken some wonderful steps. God has called me to minister to women in leadership who serve here and overseas and I would love to continue this conversation via email if you are interested. 4onepurpose@swissmail.org Praying for you and new connections as I type!!!!

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Tammy … I’m so glad these words spoke to you. Like Karen said, you’ve taken some really great steps in “going first.” Press on, sister!

      Reply
  23. Monica @ WholeLottaSomethin'

    Thank you Jennifer for your transparency…We all struggle with loneliness, and sometimes it helps just to know that we are not alone in how we feel.

    BTW – I too love the 52 Lunches idea!!

    Hugs & Blessings,

    Monica

    Reply
  24. Lyn

    Hi Jennifer
    I have really connect with what you have been feeling & written about above. I have struggled, continue to struggle with loneliness. While I accept and practice “going first” and feel that it is possibly a spiritual gift to gather groups of people together in friendship, what happens if I am always “going first”? That has made me lonely. That if it was not for me making the effort, my friends would not. I am tired. Tired of being the one to organize, reach out, go first. So what comes next?

    Reply
    • Linda

      I so relate, Lyn. I am the organizer, the ‘go first’ person, the ‘let’s make it a party’. Friends look to me to make the effort. I (they) enjoy our times together, but, like you, I’m tired of being the ‘go first’ person. I want someone to reach out to me first. I want to be invited to the coffee’s, lunches, outings. I feel like if I didn’t ‘go first’ I wouldn’t have any friends (well, maybe a few). I feel lonely too, even though I’m extremely busy. I get so involved with other friends’ lives, I feel like my life is unimportant. Maybe it’s a lack of self esteem…even though I’m praised a lot…I don’t always feel worthy. Sometimes I want to hid away…just to see if anyone would ever call. That being said, I’m basically a positive and happy person. But, there is also this other side! I understand what you are saying!

      Reply
  25. Danielle

    Thank you for your words, and thank you for the prayer. Tears fell down my cheeks as I read it. May God bless you with lots of love and connection.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Tears fell as I wrote the words, too, Danielle. This issue is huge for women. We all feel it.

      Reply
  26. Marni Gallerneault

    Thank-you so much for your honesty as it’s easy for this reader to make assumptions that people like you would never be lonely. You are a blogger, speaker, sounds like you are involved in your community … so it is easy to paint an ideal picture of your life :). I struggle with loneliness and isolation terribly. I’ve tried reaching out so many times and have been shut down many times. There is a long string of budding friendships in my past 10 years that have just ended in spite of my efforts. It’s painfully hard not to believe dark thoughts of how there must be something wrong with me. What happens when there’s no one to reach out to? To try and start a new friendship? When a person is an introvert (like me)? Anyway, your honesty in this post was a great comfort to me.

    Reply
    • Jeannie Pallett

      Marnie, I would like to thank YOU for your words as your circumstances sound similar to mine. Because my husband’s contract in this city was for only five years, (which has extended to 6 years and he is retiring in 6 months) it feels like many people have been unwilling to develop a close relationship. There are not the women to go out for lunch with weekly,

      Reply
      • Marni Gallerneault

        Yes! I’ve been trying to see that side of things where other women are just too busy or I guess they already have the friends they need. We’ve been living in current city for 10 years and no sign of leaving it as my hubby has a good job. We’re far enough away from family that they are not a part of our lives all that much. I don’t have anyone to invite out for lunch, as those that I tried with over the last year turned me down a couple of times and that gets discouraging pretty fast! I miss having a close buddy in my life, too, so thank-you for replying to me, it is a great comfort to know I’m not alone in this. It’s been a rough road, honestly, in trusting God as I go along. In my head I know He’s trustworthy, but my heart needs more time to catch up :).

        Reply
    • dukeslee

      Marni,

      I. Hear. You. I really do. It is risky to go first. Sometimes, we will hear the hard NO. We will get brave enough to ask, and then be turned down – sometimes again and again. I faced that when I first moved here to northwest Iowa. It seemed as though everyone knew everyone. And even though every one was so kind, I couldn’t find my way “in.” I felt so isolated.

      I don’t know the answers to all of the questions you ask, Marni, but I intimately understand the pain wrapped up in each one of them. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably here.

      Reply
      • Marni Gallerneault

        Thank you so very much for your reply and your understanding. I have definitely not found my way ‘in’ in this city and it is very painful with lots of ‘no’ when I try to keep a friendship. Your words and openness sooth my hurts though and give me hope.

        Reply
    • Patricia Blevins

      I am an 60 year old introvert. So I so understand. I was very shy. My story is long like everyone else’s. We moved every couple of years, and that is really hard on an introvert always being the new kid. There is so much to this, I could write a novel. By my late teens – early 20’s I said, people don’t like me and never will, I am an introvert and they find us dull and boring. Thank God for books!!! And my Mom. She was my best friend and she passed away 1-6-12. I really feel lonely now. One time I was working at place called Prime Finish and I worked with this girl around my daughter’s age, I was in my late 40’s or maybe 50 then and she and I hit it off. She was easy to talk too and she would make me laugh and we laughed till the tears rolled. That was so fun, I did not have that growing up in school I sat alone on the bus reading books. Then a new girl came around her age and they became friends, but for a little while I knew what it was like to just laugh and be silly. That was so fun. I did ask God why I could not have always had a friend like that? Maybe it is my cross to bear. I am 60 now and life still does not make sense to me. Lean not to your own understanding. I so loved my daughter when was little (still do) and she took after her father who is very extroverted and I kinda lost her to her friends. And I am glad for her that she was not introverted like me. We are not as close as My Mom and I were. That makes me sad. I had my grandchildren to love, when they were little, they think you are wonderful and then they too grow up. They are 19,18,16 and 11. They are at that age- they want you there, for food, money and a chauffeur : ) The 19 year old has a car. I pray for them!!!! I do have a quirky sense of humor, all the introverts I know have one. Jesus is the Best Friend a person can have. He never leaves you or forsakes you. I was saved at home in 1981. My heart so goes out to all the introverts, I know what it is like to live that life. And being married to someone very extrovert, that never sees a stranger, is like salt in your wounds. And they cannot relate at all. I wish I could have been home schooled………..I was born in 1955. I help take care of my 92 year old Mother-in-law. That is another whole long story, she had a stroke at 87, she is still at home and it is going on 5 years. God Bless you ALL.

      Reply
      • Marni Gallerneault

        Thank you so much Patricia for sharing with me, it was so comforting (you have no idea!). It is so good to know I’m really not alone in this struggle.

        Reply
  27. disqus_DdsqcQkQSR

    Dear Jennifer — How I wish I still lived in Iowa and could offer to pick you up and treat you to one of your 52 lunches! Can I yell across these miles that your voice nestles into the cracks of my life? Your words heal and spur me on and make me look at the world, and more importantly, Jesus in fresh ways. I’m angry with the enemy who makes a game of poking our souls and bruising our hearts. Those things he has been telling you? Not true, not true, not true! Please don’t let him wear you thin. May our gracious Father shield your ears, mind and heart from all flaming arrows intended to discourage you; may they fall to the ground– useless, ineffective, impotent. Bless you sister and your ministry to so many!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’d love that lunch with you! Thanks for dropping by. You’re such an encourager.

      Reply
  28. Cindy K from just down the way

    My dear sweet Jennifer,
    Thanks so much for sharing this. How is that even we who love people. Love lovin, sharing, listening, coffeeing, etc etc. still and often feel the loneliest. I heard a great speaker just last week share and awesome thought for me re: social media often when I get alot of my not enough’s. “We compare our insides to their outsides” That’s what those pictures are, their outsides. Thanks for the reminders that even when it looks like their all together and not lonely maybe that is God’s way of reminding me to call and meet them for lunch or coffee. Your the best thanks for being a sister in Christ… Thanks for being transparent not only in your writing but when we do get our occasional chat in person.. Thanks for being the you God created you to be!
    lov ya girl!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Cindy… You make my heart happy. It was so good seeing you last week. I’ve thought about our little side conversation many times, and in fact, thought about it even as I wrote this. When we don’t have those “be real” friends, the loneliness is multiplied. I hope and pray you had a great time with your friends last weekend. We missed you out at the Hill.

      Reply
  29. Alecia Simersky

    I’m one of those that can be in a room full of people and feel absolutely alone. It’s crazy! And it’s nice to read your words and know I’m not alone. One of the hardest things for me when people find out I write about faith, they do act differently. Like they need to be on their best behavior or I will judge them. I hope that after getting to know me they realize that I am the last person that would do that. And actually do enjoy the wine they are offering :).

    Reply
  30. Gina Brookshire

    Thank you for your post, it was a great encouragement to me today 🙂

    Reply
  31. Emily

    Thank you for this. My husband became a pastor about a year and a half ago. Since then, I have changed careers. I am a pretty introverted person and it’s definitely not easy for me to take the first steps in friendship. I worked at church for a long time before my husband taking his call. It was there that I found the most friends, did moms’ things, was in Bible study, etc. I often feel like I’ve lost that network with the move and now being in a church where they don’t have many of these things or I’m not the one leading them. Now I’m just the pastor’s wife and that seems to set me apart even though I don’t want it to. We don’t get invited places and it’s just hard. I miss girlfriends and getting together for a drink. I miss the support, growing in faith together, being comfortable around other women. Sometimes I want to run away to a new church. I wonder what God is doing in this place.

    Reply
  32. Nancy Ruegg

    Greatly appreciate your list of insightful facts about loneliness, Jennifer. If #1 is true, “loneliness is pervasive,” then there’s a good chance we’ll find a kindred spirit out there who’s lonely, too. We just need to muster our courage and put #4 into practice. “Be the inviter.” Recently my husband and I met a couple at our new church in our new town and I said, “We should have them over to the house.” Your post has given me the little push I needed to make this happen. They just might be our first friends here!

    Reply
  33. Ilene Nemeth

    This is so inspirational to me and I will share with my friends. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  34. Holy Vacation Queen

    Hi Jennifer, I missed this earlier..but thank you!! It really spoke to me. I just went through this when I posted my first blog very recently..inviting some ‘good’ friends to read it..20% responded. Silence on the other end. Was it because it was about Jesus? Or people/friends are too busy? It hurt, what can I say. But new blog or no blog..people don’t get back on emails any more, maybe months later..and getting together is so rare. I love your idea though of 52 lunches! Perhaps I’m not reaching out enough–I will do this! I also like the idea of front yard barbecues..I read about someone starting this to encourage community. I miss the old days on Long Island– Block Parties! Thanks for your truth. I live in San Diego, if you were nearby, I’d invite you to lunch!! The invitation is always open if you ever get this way!

    Reply
    • DiannaK

      Keep Blogging on. Do not get discouraged if there are no responses. Write what is on your heart and from the Lord and trust Him to get it to the right people who need “your” encouragement. Just like this blog has spoken to all of us at the right time, God’s time. Have faith that He will use your words in the same way.

      Reply
      • Holy Vacation Queen

        Thank you Dianna for your encouragement!! You are so right, God will bring those who need encouragement! In fact just a day after I posted here, a woman in my community came up to me at a theater event and thanked me for my blog. Although she isn’t a Christian, she was reminded how much she needed God in her life! What a blessing! Thank you for your encouragement. Also, I realize how blogging helps me deepen my own relationship with Christ, and is a way to dwell on scripture and to live it!

        Reply
  35. Debi G

    Jennifer, My heart aches as I read about your loneliness & compare it to mine. I have a few casual friends, who have invited me over for lunch. There has never been a second invitation. I’m pretty sure it’s because I haven’t invited them over. My situation is that I live platonically with my exhusband who makes me feel like I can’t invite people over. I’m ill, so I can’t live by myself. And, I don’t drive any more, so I’ve got a few problems. I so much want to have friends over, to deepen friendships.
    I’ll pray for you, that you will find the friends you need. Please pray for me, too. Thank you.

    Reply
  36. Denise

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your honest, straightforward and vulnerable words! Just what I needed to hear and be reminded of and take to heart. I’ve been struggling with the whole perception of “loneliness” and debating (internally of course) whether I’m really lonely or just dealing with disappointment over friendships that have changed or both. And missing terribly that face to face person who will ask me how I’m doing and actually want to hear and remember the answer! Thankfully and by God’s grace there aren’t major issues in my life right now, but the unending to-do list and just life day to day can be wearing on one’s heart and soul and I crave friendships with those willing to be there in the crisis moments as well as the “boring, day to day, just need ya to be there and ask how I’m doing” moments. Thank you for allowing Jesus to speak through you and remind me of ways I can be the friend I want to have. Blessings to you and your ministry! This is the first time I’ve visited your blog, but it definitely won’t be the last. 🙂

    Reply
  37. DiannaK

    I know I am coming late to the discussion but I am a firm believer in Jeremiah 29:11 and God’s perfect timing. I am reading your blog thinking “oh my goodness” “I totally get this. I am very active in several ministries at our church, work full time and have a ministry for young adult ladies. I lost my best friend to Breast cancer almost 5 years ago and it rocked my world and my circle of friends. That closeness I had with my sweet friend of 30+ years is gone and I miss it, but I also find myself withdrawing when ladies try to get to close. It is much easier for me to be the one that starts the friendships as long as I can be a help and an encouragement to someone else, but I pull back when people try get to close because I don’t want the heartache again. Consequently, I find myself extremely lonely sometimes and I know it is because of my reaching our and pulling back. But with the Lord’s help, here’s to a new year of building deep meaningful friendships.

    Reply
  38. Linda

    I can so relate to this blog on so many levels. I love the hearts of women and our friendships but often times there are seasons in our lives when we are just plain lonely, for whatever reason. Even in my busy world, I often feel lonely, even though I am often the ‘go first’ person. We still need to feel wanted and loved. I am affiliated with a ladies’ Christian organization called, “HeartSisters.” Our goal is to help ladies get connected in positive and meaningful ways, i.e., by showing respect and acceptance of others. We want to develop deep friendships, encourage and support one another, and we have lots fun and fellowship along the way. HeartSisters is a grassroots organization, but we have formed chapters in several states. The ladies join us for different reasons, loneliness, loss, separation from family, isolation, illness….for whatever reason…they are needing a girlfriend. And, that’s what we are…sisters in Christ who love the Lord (and those who are searching too), who want to develop meaningful relationships. If you would like more information about “HeartSisters”, please call or email me (765-425-3450 or lsmith4447@yahoo,com). We love to encourage women and get them connected! Linda

    Reply
  39. Heidy

    I feel it was fate my finding this post, your post, today. It is refreshing to read something so honest. How do the readers know its honest you ask? Because we recognized the words and the feeling of loneliness. We have lost community. We have lost sisterhood. We have lost ourselves. Take a moment. Rediscover yourself and your relationship with community.

    Reply

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  1. » If You’re Feeling Lonely? This Post is For You. - […] I spent the past weekend with about a hundred Jesus-sisters at a retreat center a few miles south of…

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