The hustle and bustle is constant. Doors opening and closing. Horns sounding and alarms ringing. We brush shoulders in the breezeway, sit beside each other on the subway and stand in endless lines around the city. We see the flowers on your porch grow and hear the bark of your dog from our couch. A smile is exchanged when holding the door to the laundry mat, but it ends there. We can sit for hours at a coffee shop and never make eye contact with the person to our left. I’ve heard it called ‘crowded loneliness’ and man is it real.
Since planting my life into a city I’ve seen this concept steal joy, foster fear and cause reclusion. Sadly, not only to the non-believer. How do we combat this terrible norm?
To say that we’re in this alone is a misinterpretation of the bible, but so often the enemy tries to isolate those in ministry and ATTACK. Has this ever happened to you?
In 2017 when moving to San Diego to join my church planting core team to invest our time, life, finances and sleep— I started noticing this all around me. My heart broke for them.. how could they live this way? How could you quite literally be living on top of each other and not know one another? How could you possibly feel alone in the midst of the masses.
Then one day, about a year and a half later, I realized that this sad existence… it was me. My city, the culture here- the darkness that’s disguised as sunshine was consuming, and the subtle whispers of the enemy began to win a small battle. When people seem genuinely excited about spending time with you, and then bail last minute— not once, twice or three times— no, ALWAYS. When a conversation falls flat, yet again. When your neighbors avoid eye contact. Layers and layers begin to form. You don’t even realize it. Your walls are down and you’re exposed. Then the enemy starts to attack in forms of tragedy and pain, fear that wasn’t there yesterday creeps in, doubts form and faith fails. Each time something happened the enemy screamed YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH.
How in ministry can we get out of these pits when we don’t realize we’re in them until we feel the lions breath on our neck and growl ringing in our ears?
I pray people didn’t stop reading before now.. because thankfully there’s HOPE. God never intended us to do anything alone. Even from the beginning there where two, not to mention the Pauline Letters saturating the importance of the family of God. It even says in Ephesians that, “(we) have strength to comprehend, with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be FILLED with ALL the fullness of God.” Dang. That’s a sweet victory. If you read this as if he were speaking to you alone, you read this wrongly. Paul was speaking to the Church. Surround yourself with your church family and study the word together — to be filled with all the fullness! That’s full.
Have you ever leveled out a glass at the sink and attempted to walk it to the table without spillage.. well for the most part it will overflow. Same with you. Imagine living life knowing and comprehending the power of Christ in, not just you, but in the local church. Stop trying to walk across the room without spillage! Instead be full, overflow, let those that don’t know the same hope that you have share in the togetherness. Invite them into community. Make room for them. Share truth and love with them. Pray for them. It’s easier for you to get out of the pit than it is for someone who is unaware of the pit and the roar of the lion waiting to devour them.
I think one of the most important realizations about crowded loneliness is admitting what is missing.