I live just down the street from an Elementary School; often driving by when the kids are out to recess. For the past 3 day I have driven by; my heart saddened by seeing the same little boy standing along the fence alone while all of his classmates swirl, dance, play, chat, and run all around him. Everyone seemingly having people who want to know them. He stands back, surrounded by people, but yet, seems to be very alone. As a mother, my heart ached for this little guy.
I grew up in a large family; 5 sisters and both parents. I experienced many emotions growing up but I NEVER felt lonely. I always felt like I belonged, that I mattered.
When I was 21 I transferred from a college in Northern California to another University in Southern California. A tradition of this university was to take ALL the students to a large camp for the first weekend for the school year to reunite with past students and to help new students connect with other students; to kick the year off well!! Such a great idea, right? I went and for 3 days I was completely alone. I roomed with students who only wanted to connect with those they already knew, I dined with students who only wanted to eat with those they already knew, I listened to great teaching alongside students to whom I was completely invisible. Literally, no one cared that I was there!
To be surrounded by over 400 students and to realize that I was invisible was devastating–the loneliest kind of lonely ever. I snuck outside the camping cabins and wept. So painful.
There’s no more painful loneliness that to be surrounded by people and to realize you are all alone…….
My husband and I served as church pastors for many years; it was always easy to come into a church and make friends. People made a special effort to know us because…we were pastors. However, breaking into a new church over the years as just simply “church attenders” has been much more challenging, it’s takes so much longer.
I write about this because, especially in the church, we have many gatherings and events. There are many who “brave” walking through our church doors alone under the hope that someone will want to know them; will go out of their way to include them, make them feel wanted. But, unfortunately I have heard all to often that it is painfully difficult to “break into” a church culture……..
Hmmmmm……could we do better? Could we make an effort at our many gatherings to be watchful for the person who is alone; standing in the back hoping so desperately that someone will acknowledge them and invite them to be a part of their group? Let’s not leave anyone “standing along the fence alone”! 🙂