I’ve found my 40’s a season of great contemplation. Life has slowed down enough that I have time to reflect and analyze.
One of the things I’ve realized is that I tend to be a loner. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends, but even my best friend and I only talk once a week. I’ve just never been the kind of person who checked in with my Mom or a friend on a constant basis.
I remember my counselor challenging me during a session about 6 years ago. “Kelly you could die a very lonely woman”. My first thought was “How dare you say something so rude. I paid good money for this session, only to be insulted.” I didn’t have the self awareness at the time to see that what he was saying was true. At the time, I thought my lack of meaningful relationships was an issue because others in my life didn’t want deeper relationship with me. But when I look back today, I see that the counselor was spot on. I was living a life surrounded by people but I had built up big walls of protection that stopped people from getting close to me. I was holding people at arms length and then blaming them for not being closer.
We all have reasons for our dysfunctions or growth areas, and of course and I’m no exception. So I thought sharing my thoughts on being a loner may help you understand yourself, or someone you know a bit better.
Confessions of a Loner
I’ve always been above my years…
I’ve been a serious, adult like person since the age of 10. I was often much more comfortable talking to adults than kids my age. I was interested in politics and world issues even as a pre-teen and I loved debating relevant issues with my parent’s friends. In fact I liked debating so much I thought I might become a lawyer.
In high school I was usually the designated driver for my friends and I lectured them as a parent would on some of their choices. Yep I was a lot of fun. To top it of I sabotaged my social status by carrying a briefcase around in grade 11. Like who does that? I acted more like a teacher than a student. Oh how I hated high school. I just didn’t fit. Before you think I’m a total geek, I did date the hot football captain for a while, but that’s another story.
I’m not good at small talk
If it comes to choosing a deep emotional conversation or talking about shoes, I’ll choose deep every time. I’m definitely a girly girl and I like clothes and putting together outfits, and I like shoes ( I don’t have as many as most of you probably), but talking about shoes is just pointless to me. I’d much rather talk about heart issues. I’m a deep feeler, and relating on an emotional level or intellectual level is my sweet spot.
I’m comfortable talking to men. You may think that contradicts my earlier statement about talking on an emotional level, but it’s the intellectual level I like. I like talking business, and policy, and forward type entrepreneurial thinking. I grew up in a family business family, my Dad was the CEO. so talking business is interesting to me.
I’ve been burned in relationships
Get burned enough times touching the hot stove and you loose interest in cooking. I once had a mentor and friend tell me she couldn’t be my friend anymore because we would be attending another church and she only had time for women in her own church. Ouch!!! That one really hurt just a couple years later 2 friendships I invested in ended abruptly for different reasons. One because of a difference in ministry opinion and the other because she said she was moving in a different direction and didn’t have time for our friendship.
When you are a sensitive person and people burn you it takes some time and courage to put yourself out there again in friendships.
Being alone feels safe
When you keep people at bay, they can’t hurt you, is what us loners tell ourselves. But the fact is, this isn’t true. I spent many years holding others at an arms length and then feeling rejected because they didn’t make effort to get together with me. I know, I’m my own worst enemy. Being alone isn’t safe though, when you fall down, you need others to help you up. For those of us who battle depression, too much time alone with our thoughts can lead us to some dark places that aren’t safe at all.
I like it when people invite me to do things
I think people assume that I’m an independent person and that I can make my own fun. Sometimes I do need alone time to refuel. But there are countless times I wish another woman would invite me to coffee or movie.
I spent the last 5.5 years as Pastor of Women’s Ministry. My job pushed me to meet with women on a regular a basis. At first this scared me to death. You see I know I’m kind of a misfit. I wondered if I’d have to talk about shoes! But over these years I’ve been blown away at what God has been doing in me through meeting with women. I’m discovering that I have things to relate to, that I’m a great listener, and every once and a while I have something great to say.
But what’s surprised me the most lately, is that I’m not enjoying my alone time like I used to. Often now when I’m alone I feel lonely! I am craving the company of others more than ever before, and I’m amazed by what God is doing in me.
The counselor was right. I could have died a lonely old woman, but I’m no longer okay with that. This journey I’m on is one of healing and joy and God is using beautiful women to bring me the healing I need.
I’m so thankful Jesus doesn’t let us stay the same. He is constantly inviting us deeper into His love and healing and to trust Him more deeply because as our gentle shepherd, He knows what’s best.