Loneliness: A Fascination with the Destination Instead of the Journey
Written by: Michelle Fletcher, Northwestern New York District May 22, 2015
For decades, songwriters have asked, “Who saves the hero after she saves the world?” And while this may be a catchy lyric you inadvertently hum while completing your daily tasks, it is arguably the plight of the woman.
Perhaps the answer is God. Every woman rests on the everlasting arms of the Father who is always there to comfort, shield and commune with us after we are exhausted by our families, careers and ministries. However, loneliness is often an unwelcomed guest at many of our parties for one.
After careful consideration of my own encounters with loneliness, I discovered that I was lonely because I did not participate in life. As a 25-year woman trying to establish myself, determine my political affiliation, join enough associations to expand my professional network, aspirations of marriage and children, a ministry for administrators to cultivate and enrich the church experience, desires to be a trail-blazer and ceiling breaker, there are few opportunities left to truly engage in an experience for the moment. The extensive list of goals I mentioned require a strategy that often occupies much of my time with people and places that I will appreciate down the line; a means to an end but certainly not the highlight of my day. Furthermore, those goals make me a productive member of society but, do they mean I’m living?
I believe the answer to that is no. And frankly, I am not alone. Many of us are participating in citizenship but not in life. Making sacrifices to establish your future is commendable but you can enjoy the journey. When every experience is about a future accomplishment, it often limits an opportunity to be in community with others and can create or exaggerate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Making the decision to enjoy the process on your way to a destination can be a fulfilling experience in which you encounter like-minded or perverse people to learn from.
I am reminded of the passage of Martha and Mary in the book of Luke. I would imagine in that crowded home, Martha was lonely surrounded by those who saw her as a host and others who worked with her to complete the task of preparing for her guests. She became so engulfed with what she was trying to achieve that she did not even recognize, as her sister Mary did, the opportunity to commune with Jesus. We can either be so caught up in getting things done like Martha or we can be like Mary who chose the good part and enjoyed the journey. Mary knew there was work to be done but she took the time to sit at the Father’s feet and enjoy the moment. If Mary found the ability to enjoy the journey, so can we.