I See You!
Loneliness is at an all time high and civility is at an all time low. Civility, as defined by Webster Dictionary, is formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. We do not have to look very far to see that the world-at-large is lacking in civility. Somehow since the COVID pandemic we have become a self -centered people and yet through it all, I have seen some wonderful acts of love and service.
But under the same conditions, we see loneliness soaring in various circumstances. On one hand we had to shut ourselves in and reinvent our communications skills with each other. Even with so many connections, loneliness continues to rise. This loneliness is not the same as depression. This is a serious matter as well but today I just want to focus on loneliness. Google defines loneliness as the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation. The question I pose to this, what about the group of us that can feel lonely even when we are among community? It happens sooner or later to each of us.
I believe that inside each of us, we yearn for humanness, each other, a touch, a hug, a smile, we want to be seen by someone who looks you in the eye and say; I see you! And I don’t know about you but wearing masks has dulled my view of others. I passed a friend and didn’t recognize her; she recognized me because of something I was wearing. My friend had on a hat, Sunglasses, and a mask, she could have been any super hero on the street and I would have still missed her. As we stood blocking an aisle in the grocery store because of social distancing, I had to keep asking her to repeat something she said because the muffling of the masks. We finally said our goodbyes. No hugs, smiles, or invites to stop by or meet up. And nor did we make a commitment to call because …COVID, stay away, social distance….
A year passes, when I had the opportunity to engage with the sister of my friend. She advised that my friend was not handling the pandemic well. She stayed home, ate, watched tv, worked, attended online church services and stared at her phone but did not talk on it. With so many connections and communication avenues, turns out my friend was lonely for her tribe. So I called her as soon as I got home. Of course she thought someone had died because she knows I have an aversion to talking on the phone and would never call to just say hello. But the Holy Spirit was moving and lead me to make that call. We talked and laughed for a long time. I even had to charge my phone while talking. Now, if you are my girlfriend you will know that I March to the beat of my own drum and can be rather sporadic and not very traditional but not wild and crazy either (well that description made no sense but that’s what I am sticking with). I came up with the idea to meet in the parking lot of a nearby strip mall. We parked our cars side by side but facing the opposite directions; rolled the windows down and talked for TWO hours. It was cold out but I had a blanket and snacks that I gladly shared. We laughed so hard that we had to stop our two hour chat only because we had to potty.
I am a strong introvert but even introverts can suffer from loneliness. We need each other. Some of us need more than others but I realize that even in my introverted, HSP world, I need others (occasionally) and others need me. We all need our tribe, we need someone to truly see us, we need someone to love us and we need Jesus. When we fail each other, and yes we will because we are not perfect people, we will need a friend who stands by us even in times of loneliness. We can still suffer loneliness but Jesus will help you through the lonely times. He will not desert us or leave us.
I encourage you to turn to Jesus and ask him to help you build or become a part of your tribe or community where you are with likeminded or mutual people. Yet I implore you to not totally run from loneliness all the time. In some of that aloneness let it drive you to spend time with The Savior to enrich your relationships and draw closer to him.
Reach out and touch someone today. Be intentional, be compassionate, be loving, be kind, be gentle.
I love you❤️
When no words are necessary
I am in the middle of grief. I am not down or overly sad. I’m am not physically tired but my brain cannot handle anymore placated niceties. Most days I do not want to hear any voices that I must respond to. Ah! Grief. We all go through it sooner or later and we are all different in how we go through it. One way is not better than the other unless you aim to harm yourself or someone else. Grief just may change you all together. However, I am not so much as addressing those who mourn but rather those who will sit in the ashes or those who simply want to be of service to the mourner(s). There are some things that helped me and perhaps they will spur some ideas for you to help someone else experiencing grief.
1. Thank you cards and stamps. I had a few of these on hand but sooner or later i want to express my gratitude. The are no written rules on this. My mom sent her cards out 5 days after the funeral. Mine will go out about 3 weeks afterwards. The gift is having them available for whenever. You can even offer to help with sentiments, addressing and stamping.
2. Remembrance Favors. These are things used in remembrance of the deceased love one. I will be ordering a memorial candle and gifting one to my sister and brother. I have ordered remembrance ribbons to place in my thank you cards. Necessary? No. Nice gesture? Of course. Having a remembrance item delivered to the grieving -after several (few)weeks is best in my opinion. Initially everyone shows up and within 5 days, the mourner will be all alone. This is a good and honoring way to circle back and say hey, I’m thinking about!
I own a gift box business. Since we have been up and running, the number 1 requested gift box is the pre-curated and customed-made grief box. Order one (hopefully from us) and have it delivered with a message from you. Many offer free shipping!
3. Household goods. Friends, relatives (near and far), perhaps coworkers and church family will converge at once. Household staples will need to be replenished. Fill a basket with tissue, paper towels or napkins, dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent etc … ask if you can put it away for them. This will also depend on how well they know you.
4. Lend a hand. Sweep, mop, serve guests, keep the bathroom stocked with tissue. Perhaps use some wipes and wipe door handles and the bathroom (thanks COVID). Wash dishes. Monitor the food; does something need to be refrigerated? Drinks need to be replenished? Just do it. Being bombarded with questions is draining during this time.
5. Plant care. There will be lots of flowers and plants. Refresh flowers, change the water if necessary. Water the plants and buy some of those clear plastic holders for plants so that the moisture will not ruin the furniture. After a few weeks, drop off some potting soil and pots. If you have a green thumb, offer to repot the plant. We have a nice water spot on the piano from one of the plants.
6. Meals. Everyone will drop off some food in the beginning. When the dust settles, offer to take them to lunch, a picnic, or drop and run. If there are children, offer to bake cookies with them. Go for a walk.
7. My final thing is to just sit and listen. If I could have laid my head in my BFF’s lap and just say what was in my heart (good, bad,ugly) and then got up and went to a Mexican food restaurant that would have been the best!!
Crowds energize some people but others find them draining. Watch for signs of distress. And do not make them repeat the same story over and over again by asking those lurking questions: how you doing? What happened? What are you going to do? When will you start to go through his/her things? If you know them well then it may be best to wait until the two of you are alone to ask those imposes questions.
These are just things I observed personally. What would you add or take away?
Late November I moved to the Mississippi Delta to help care for my father who was in the late stage of vascular dementia. Dad courageously fought this battle until Sunday February 6. His celebration of Life service was held February 12. And just like that, the journey was completed.
I am still in the Mississippi Delta accompanying my mother who is aging gracefully. Will she move back to Virginia where all three of her children live? Only God knows. Today, we nap, we enjoy the rain fall, we begin to move forward without our patriarch, even though we are not quite sure what that looks like.
My mother is of boomer generation and I am a Gen X. We have total different views on getting thank you cards out. Let me assure you that the cards have been prepared, stamped and mailed. My cards on the other hand are still being delivered to me so that I may address, stamp and send. I need more time to think, reflect and rest. I just march to the beat of my own drum. I do not think that she is wrong and I don’t think that I am wrong. The gift comes in the honoring, compromising and being content. He was my dad but her husband. It was important to her to get them done as soon as possible. It was my duty to honor her and serve her.
The best thing to do when comforting others is to sit in the grief, in the hard stuff with them and live moment by moment. Easier said than done, right? My moment by moment means watching a morning of game shows and judge shows. (pssst …. I hate game shows, judge shows and tv in general 😂) but I love my mother and I’m willing to serve and that may just mean several more months of doing just that because love trumps all and I choose love.
It is easy to think that we humble ourselves before God, but our humility towards OTHERS is the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real.
~Andrew Murray, The journey towards holiness .