Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Times of Transition, Loneliness, Being Honest, Forging True Friendships

I originally wrote most of this in a letter to encourage and support a friend going through a major life transition, knowing that these are many of the lessons I’ve needed to be reminded of during each significant move or change in my own life.  
I know it’s hard to do, but when you’re missing aspects of the life you used to lead, it’s fine to tell someone back home that, however, it will help you get settled and can be a tremendous grace when you share what you’re thinking and feeling with someone who’s there with you.  Chances are many are feeling the same way or have other things they’re missing that they’d be more likely to share if they knew they weren’t the only ones getting used to things being so different there from what they’re used to. 
It’s always been hard for me to open up emotionally, but there have been people throughout my life the Lord has given me who I can be more myself with than I can with most people.  Obviously, my husband Kevin’s one of those people for me, but there have been a select group of others as well. 
Your getting settled and making new friends there will involve letting your guard down sometimes.  I’ve often found that if I’m willing to be honest and vulnerable that it makes others feel more comfortable doing the same.  You will need friends there you can really talk with.
Forging close friendships where you are will make the difference in you feeling settled and that will be an integral part of your growth and experience of God and the Body of Christ.
God loves you without “the mask” or suit of armor, and so do many other people. With that in mind, accept the gifts of courage and humility to be honest if someone who genuinely wants to know asks how you’re doing.  It’s okay to tell someone you trust and see yourself being friends with that you feel a bit overwhelmed, frustrated, lonely, miss your family…
Yet again, I know all of this is easier said than done.  Often, I still have to force myself to let people closest to me know what I’m thinking and feeling for fear that I’ll be judged, rejected, criticized or even abandoned.  It’s often a struggle in new situations, but it’s worth the effort.  We need people around us who know us well and love us anyway.  It’s a gift to be able to form relationships with others around our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses, but it’s most rewarding when we can be our true selves and let others be their true selves, especially when both people want God at the center of their lives.      
I know that others will come to love you dearly when they get to know who you are.  This is an important time to expand your lovelines family.  You’re not the only one missing home.  You’re not the only one who has felt they have to be “on” all the time. 
There are people who have come to love you so much because they know you so well.  Give others the chance to get to know you and make the effort to get to know some other people on a deeper level. 
Also remember that the first few weeks, even the first few months, you’re adjusting to a number of things, meeting lots of new people, and getting into a lifestyle and schedule that are vastly different from what you’re used to.  It’s normal to feel overwhelmed.  This is a huge transition.  Give yourself time to get adjusted, but in the meantime, be honest with yourself, God, and a few trusted friends when you’re not feeling comfortable or that you’ve gotten into your new groove yet. 
Lord, give us the courage to be vulnerable with others, especially when it will help us be better vessels of your love, compassion, comfort, encouragement, support, and peace.  Amen.

Here's a follow-up post to this one since it seemed to hit home with so many readers: Not Practically Perfect in Any Way.
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