Every one of us knows we can be lonely in a crowd of people. I suppose most of us have experienced that at one time or another. Some of us experience it daily, or weekly. Others of us are more guilty of creating loneliness in others than in experiencing loneliness ourselves.
That’s because we have our friends, our family, or our co-workers. We’re all set. Never mind the new gal who just moved into the community. She can find her own friends and we’ll keep ours. We’ve worked hard to get those friendships, and we’ll just keep it that way. No thanks to reaching out to someone else, ’cause it’s not our problem, right?
My daughter-in-law moved into our community as a single gal. It took years for her to develop friendships. The lack of friends was not because she was aloof. It was because she was “well-known” in the literary Anabaptist world and folks thought she had friends or didn’t need friends – or were threatened by her “success”. So, even though some of the gals her age were aware of the dilemma, friendships were a long time coming. Shame on us.
Why is it that we enjoy our success of friendships and refuse to reach out to others who are lonely? Are we afraid to bring them into our circle for fear we’ll lose the friendships we have – to her? Is it because we’re so busy with our world and our schedule that we don’t want to make time for someone who is lonely and hurting? Could the truthful reason be that we are selfish people and don’t want to take the time to invest and reach out to those who need friendships?
Do we use the excuse, “I’m an introvert; I’m not really a people person.” Or, “It’s hard for me to know what to say to someone so I can’t reach out to her.” For those of us who are older, do we use the excuse, “I’ve done my share; let somebody else do it”? Perhaps we experienced the same thing when we were new to a community and we’re not about to go back and relive that pain.
Friendship in a crowd
A lonely person is someone who has no companion. It doesn’t mean the person does not have people in her life. It means she has no one with whom to “keep company”. Keeping company involves investing time with someone. It’s a common phrase for “courtship” or for a “sitter” or “friendship” or “companionship”.
Our circle of friends should never be so complete that we do not have room for more Click To Tweet. Our comfort is not what friendship is about. If this is what Jesus intended, then Jesus would never have gone to the home of Zacchaeus, touched lepers, or traveled off the beaten path to go to the well in Samaria.
It’s a sad commentary in our churches when folks choose to go elsewhere because they find no friends among our friends. What do folks say about your church? Do they find welcome, comradery and friendship there, or a circle in which they can never enter? What are you doing to open the circle of your friends and invite others in to the warmth and comradery you experience?