I’ve written about being alone in the past; specifically that we as a culture have lost the art of aloneness. While I am still working toward contentment in being alone and feel like I’m making great progress, I’ve come to the point in my recovery from the divorce that I feel I’m ready for more out of a relationship than casual connection. I have that natural desire to see a friendship grow beyond the random encounter and occasional deeper interaction. I want to see more purpose and intention in a relationship. I want to be more deliberate in knowing, understanding and expressing what each of us are feeling and thinking.
So I’m making the effort to be those things. I have a friend who has been a major encouragement to me this last year and a half. We have weathered some storms together. We have explored elements of our faith together. I’ve even watched as she began to step back into the dating world after her own divorce. After dinner together the other night, I was driving away from her house and my heart wouldn’t let me leave what I was feeling in the background. I turned around and went back to talk to her.
As a writer, thinker and dreamer I have notions where those conversations are like a well a scripted film or a polished piece of classic literature. I can say with great confidence that this conversation was neither of those things! I won’t share the details – I’m not even exactly sure what I said. I do know it was neither poetic nor eloquent, but it was genuine and from the heart.
We were not on the same page. To be honest, I was pretty sure I knew that, but I needed to hear it. I have no doubt the friendship will endure and the reason is simple: we are completely on the same page as to what the friendship is, just not in our vision of what it might become. The burden is now on me to adjust my vision to the known reality.
So why share this today? In the looming “holiday season,” loneliness will claim an unacceptable number of lives. While there was a disconnect between my vision for that friendship and the reality of it, that disconnect doesn’t constitute loneliness; disappointment perhaps, but not loneliness. This coming weekend would have been my 17th wedding anniversary. Thinking about what was lost is more about losing a vision for the future we had together. Again, it’s disappointing but it’s not loneliness. My life is filled with grace, with love, and with compassion – opportunities to both give them and receive them.
Having friends or family whose vision for your relationship doesn’t match your reality can be devastating. All too often, those people in our lives are not likely willing to make the distinction between their vision and reality. And when they take it out on us, we are left feeling lonely.
Before you let loneliness overtake you these next few weeks, take a moment to draw the line between your vision and reality. Ask yourself if your feelings are actually the result of an unrealized vision. an unfulfilled dream or an unmet expectation. Perhaps you’ll find some contentment simply by bringing your own visions and realities into alignment.
Next take a moment to think about the challenging relationships you are dealing with. Are the challenges based on someone else’s unrealized vision for you? Did they have expectations about your job, school, relationships, etc. that don’t fit with your reality? What, if anything, can be done to help shift their expectations?
Before you let yourself sink into the depression which loneliness can breed, remember that visions can be adjusted and realities can change. It’s a season of gratitude, love and compassion. Keep seeking out people with a vision for those things in your life. Embrace those ideas on in your outlook on other people and I’m willing to bet the reality of loneliness will melt in their presence.
It certainly has for me.
(And if you can’t find people with that vision – send me a message, I’d be honored to be one of them!)