Saturday, November 2, 2013

Just Keep Breathing

"How many times have you heard me cry out, 'God, please take this'?
How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing?
Oh I need you.
God I need you now." (Plumb)

The past 7 years have been the loneliest of my life (except for a brief respite in 2009-10), and there have been many moments when I felt like all I could do was cry out to God and hope to "just keep breathing." How many years can one sustain such a basic hope, though? "Just breathing" is not how life is meant to be lived. I feel like I've reached the end of what I can handle.

I'm not intentionally isolating myself or my family, though home-schooling naturally keeps us more insulated than most. I'm part of an informal 'support group' and a more formal 'co-op,' but no relationships have developed from either of those. I'd hoped that neighbors would be a natural source of friendship, but even 5 months after living in our new home, I hardly know any names. And the worst thing is that we are back to having no church home.

We lived our first 8 months in Washington, D.C. with no church and that was truly the loneliest I've been in 7 years. To be brand new in a huge place and have no neighbor friends and no church friends is almost unbearable. We finally did settle on a church and attended it for 12 months, but as of July 1, we've been looking for a new church.

Most of the time, this loneliness has settled in the pit of my stomach, in the depth of my brain, crouching like a hidden dragon. I've ignored it, on the surface pretending that I'm hardy, that I don't need close friends. My husband has tried to encourage me, reminding me of all the good friends I "still have" from my past. These are friends who were close at one time, but they don't call or visit or write. I don't know how that's supposed to encourage me: absent friends aren't the friends I need right now.

The other day, though, I received a phone call from someone I'd known at Wheaton College, been in touch with over the years, and had re-connected with since moving to D.C. This person needed to talk about a heart-breaking situation they're in the middle of, and I listened and chatted for over 2 hours. It happened on a day when I was hard-hit with a bad cold and was desperate for a nap, and my husband later asked, "Why on earth did you talk so long instead of just saying you needed to sleep?"

It hit me hard: I could count on one hand the number of talks I've had with friends in the past couple months, and my heart *needed* that conversation. Even though I was mostly listening (and I still have a heart full of burdens I'd love to share with someone else who can listen to me), I was still interacting with another adult who was actually appreciative of my presence. Such a rare occurrence these days...

I don't know how much longer I can 'just keep breathing.' I know I have my kids who depend on me right now. But I also need to be a friend. I need to talk to friends. And my kids need the same. They are almost as lonely as I am. Without friends, this life seems so purposeless and I don't know how to keep going...


Anonymous said...

Lisa Give me a call, please, I would also love to hear from you!!!!!

Flowers said...

You call your sister, brother, father and mother. Put them on phone rotation until you make new friends. When family lived near one another these problems didn't arise so often. Now many people are left feeling isolated and disconnected. It will get better.

Lisa Gertz said...

Anonymous, I don't know who you are!!
And Flowers, you're right. I should call family more. However, some of the things I'm most deeply struggling with relate to family so it's kind of hard to talk to them about it. We've definitely lost the benefits of multi-generational and communal living with our transient, mobile modern society :(

Flowers said...

Lisa I stumbled upon your blog by reading your sister's blog. Naturally I clicked on yours and it seems the two of you have experienced much of the same in terms of the emotional turmoil that is life. Why not reach out to each other? Finances may make it difficult to travel, but at least you can talk on the phone and encourage one another.

Lisa Gertz said...

Yes Flowers, I have my sister who is one of my best friends. And she and I could be talking regularly. We *do* talk to her more than I talk to anyone else, but I'd love to talk to her more. Unfortunately she doesn't like picking up the phone to make a call. So if I don't get around to it, it doesn't happen. Thanks for the 'kick in the pants'!