Five years ago, I penned these words, “I hope I can get to 30 and be okay.”
I was concerned at that time by life. I was concerned about things turning out the way that I thought they would. 30 seemed so far away. It seemed like an ancient age. It seem like something that wasn’t going to happen. More than that I was concerned about still being single at 30 and that I would be alone.
However, one of the biggest lessons I have learned in the last 5 years.
Being alone is a choice.
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We live in a world with so many people. We live in big and small cities. We encounter people on the subway, in the grocery stores. We have waiters, and flight attendants. Most people work with other people.
There are plenty of people around, so being alone is something you choose.
We choose to look at the ground when we pass by someone. We choose to put headphones in when in a coffee shop. We choose not to say hi to someone. We shut our front doors and avoid our neighbors. We keep company with Netflix.
We choose to be alone.
Friends, I made a choice in my 20s that I will only be alone if I choose it. I will have people around if I make a choice to let them be around me. I make a choice to live with a roommate. I make a choice to respond to a text or an email from a friend. I make choice whether to call my mom back.
I make a choice to answer the questions “How are you?”with more than “Fine.” I make a choice whether or not to engage in a conversation with the barista or just ignore them and stay on my phone.
Because of those choices, I find myself surrounded by people. I find myself surrounded by friends who bless me every day.
At one point in my life I had this huge fear that when people figured out who I really am, they wouldn’t want to be my friend. So I would pretend to be someone else. I would try to tone down who I was. I tried to be other people. It didn’t work. It was only frustrating and would lead to a lot of anxiety.
When I let those walls down and let people in, I found that my friends really did love me for me. They really did care about me. I let them love me in the way they know how and I loved them in my own way. When that freedom happened, I didn’t feel so alone.
I felt apart of something. I felt like I belonged. And isn’t that what we all long for, to be apart of something, to belong.
Now at my 30th birthday, I am struck how amazing my life is. More than I could have asked for, or imagined. Exactly in the style of the Lord.
What started with me inviting people over for dinner on a weekly basis has turned into some of my most rewarding friendships. Some have moved away and moved back, but it provided an opportunity to let each other into our lives.
Friends, we live in a culture filled with ways to form connections with people. You can be physically alone but be connected to people 24/7. It isn’t hard to connect on the surface with people.
There are so many excuses for this.
“Work is crazy these days.”
“I am exhausted all the time.”
“I live in a big city and it is so hard to get connected.”
“No one has similar interests as me.”
“No one really understands me.”
These are excuses. These are things we say to ourselves because we making finding our people hard.
IT can be hard and sometimes scary. Let me tell you. Sometimes I want to give it up because people are complicated and they can hurt you and have messy dramatic lives. But what is the alternative. To be alone forever. What sort of life do you want to lead?
So many people are craving it, “I want community. I want to find people that really know me and I them.”
Then do it. Then make the choice to be involved in people’s lives. Make connecting a priority. Be brave and introduce yourself to someone, ask them to get some coffee, beer or pizza. (Most people like pizza.) Yep it might be super scary and they might say no. But they might say yes.
In the end though, letting people in your life and letting yourself be known and loved by friends and family is a part of the human experience that I wouldn’t give up. Because when life’s storms hit and they will, those are the people that will be your life raft. Don’t give up on people after hard times, that is usually when it gets good. The depth of connection increases after the storm.
Friends, what is holding you back from finding those people to live life with? If you don’t already have a community of people, what could you do to start to form it?