I walked off the stage, the title to my presentation—Community in Leadership—in bold at the top of my speaking notes. I had just spent 40 minutes convincing women leaders of the power and importance of being intimately involved in community with others.
Ironically, or perhaps hypocritically, I was the loneliest, most isolated person I knew. Mentally, I knew leadership and relationships weren't mutually exclusive. I just couldn't convince my lonely heart. As I battled feelings of loneliness, I realized I harbored several patterns of thinking that kept me feeling alone.
Lonely for God. I was doing all the right things–praying, reading my Bible, serving Jesus in ministry. Yet here I was, lonely. It seemed like God had abandoned me. Wasn't he supposed to meet all my needs? Had I done something wrong? Or not done enough for him?
Oddly, for all the praying I was doing, the one thing I didn't talk about with God was my loneliness. It seemed bringing it up would be tantamount to accusing him of not being able to meet my needs. For some reason, I thought I should be able to take care of loneliness on my own.
One morning, as I was dutifully reading my Bible, I came across the familiar verse in Philippians that reminds us to present our requests to God in every situation. I took God at his word and bared my soul. God, would you bring me some friends to fill the void? God, is there something wrong with me? Do I need to adjust my expectations? Is this simply a season? What are you trying to teach me? Just being able to share my feelings was a relief.
Lonely Expectations. All through grade school, I wanted a little girl exactly like me to move into our neighborhood. I wanted someone who would understand everything about me–what it was like to look different from everyone else, to be too embarrassed to admit I was a Christian at school, to want respite from an annoying little brother as much as I did. I wanted a best friend.
Life isn't so different as an adult, even if you are a leader. I still want a BFF. But I've discovered no one can understand all of me. My mom-friends can commiserate with me about the daily grind of mothering. Ministry friends understand the unique struggles I have reaching women for Christ. My Asian American friends resonate with the cultural pressures I feel. But I have yet to find a friend who gets all of it.
Friends struggle alongside me as I try to understand God's ways. They rejoice as he changes my perspective. But they cannot understand all of me, nor can they fully process my raw emotions.