I am amazed at the number of e-mails and notes I've gotten from various women this past week. Do you have any idea how many women around you struggle with some form of loneliness? There are many different reasons but the bottom line is...this is common. People wrote me that I would never have guessed deal with it. And it made me realize busy-ness and an always positive attitude does not (does not!) equal connection.
What are we going to do with this knowledge?
Here are some specific steps that I will be taking:
1) Schedule coffee or breakfast at least twice a month with different girlfriends and talk deeper than summer activities and pleasantries.
2) Make a point to plan some activities with and for women in my local church.
3) Continue to write and think about ways to bridge the gap between women and keep the discussion open.
4) Seek to build relationships and friendships with people I know are struggling with feelings of loneliness.
It encourages me to hear others opening up about it - and while I was sorry others experience this, it was also a little comforting to know I'm not alone. We really do need to support one another. We need to be sensitive to the journeys of others and seek to connect over the common bonds (which are many!). We must respect the ideas, callings, and challenges of other women. We absolutely must listen to one another and find ways to open up. I had no idea some people quite close to me felt similarily - not for the same reasons but nevertheless lonely.
We can put on appearances of having it all together and fitting in and being busy, but the truth is - if we don't let people into our lives, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. It takes work and it takes a transparency and vulnerability that isn't always (okay, for me, almost never!) comfortable. Let's get real with each other, women! Let's commit to talking and sharing and cultivating relationships.
We can connect. We can work on doing away with the loneliness. We can focus on commonality. We can discuss and embrace differences. We can allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
My challenge to each of you, is to schedule time with a friend - just the two of you. Make it someone you haven't spent time with for awhile or someone you know is struggling through something or someone you suspect or know is lonely. I imagine it will do you both good!
And I would love to continue to hear your thoughts on this topic, what (if any) steps you plan to take and how it goes! If you prefer, you can always e-mail or message me privately as many of you have already done.