Playing Hide and Seek with Lonely

Think back with me to playing Hide and Seek as a kid. Can you remember? 

I will always picture a big group of neighborhood kids gathering in my front yard and the basketball goal in my driveway as our designated base. You could possibly call that a home team advantage, but I'd say it just pays off to live at the front of the neighborhood. 

I can even remember my favorite hiding spot. There was a place just behind my house where the bushes shifted just enough to form a small gap. A place for me to hide. A place for me to become invisible.

Every game had its rules, but there was also a law, and you know it, too. What ALWAYS happened as soon as you found your hiding place.... as soon as you squeeze down into your spot and close your eyes as if to make yourself invisible?

You had to pee.

SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THAT ALWAYS HAPPENED? ALWAYS. As soon as I sat still, I became uncomfortable.

I spent most of this year craving room to breathe. Life felt full and busy and often times out of control. It wasn't that everything on my calendar or to-do list was a bad thing. In fact, they're all good things. Work. Friends. Family. Church. Mentoring. All things I love. But somewhere along the way, every day was maxed out, every hour was scheduled, and everything felt just a little too much. 

As summer turned to fall, and things began to change, I started to find the thing I had been craving. A new job meant a chance to start over with the way I set boundaries and how I stay organized. I found margin. Moving into a new place and living alone meant a chance to establish new routines. Choosing to say "yes" to some activities and "no" to others meant being just a tad bit more intentional with my time.

But a funny thing happened. The law of Hide and Seek creeped right in and as soon as I found time to be still, to be quiet, I got uncomfortable. All that time I wanted life to slow down and room to breathe, and all of sudden I didn't know what to do with it. 

The extra time meant extra thoughts. The extra thoughts meant doubts that tiptoed in, and doubts created even more thoughts. I felt like a crazy person. In my mind, busy meant I was productive (not always true). Busy meant I was needed and wanted and useful (also not always true). But busy turned me into a crazy person. And now that busy turned itself down a notch I was back to feeling like a crazy person for not being so busy.

This is where the professionals step in.

A ton of people in my life have been big proponents of counseling and earlier in the year I discovered what they're talking about. Counseling means I can ask a stranger these burning questions and she gets paid not to judge me for it. Slowly as we worked our way down the trail of tears, we started to unpack it all. And she asked me a question that made me realize why I pay her: "Do you think that now you have time to breathe, you're having to face the fact that you're lonely?"

It took me a second to not want to throw something. She used a word I so badly fight against: lonely. How could I be lonely? I'm surrounded by people all day at work, my phone doesn't stop buzzing from multiple group texts, I have family in town, a great group of friends, a community group. For me, the word lonely has always been so directly correlated with the word single, but the more I've let it all sink in, the more I've talked to friends, the more I've listened, I've realized that lonely has nothing to do with a relationship status. 

I am convinced that every time I find myself alone, God is waiting for me to recognize His presence. If I'm no longer able to find my worth in the busy, then maybe He has a chance to show me my worth in the still.

I have no pretty bow to wrap this thing up with. No quote for you to share. No lesson for us to text about. All I know is this:

Somewhere along the way I started playing Hide and Seek with Lonely. She invited herself to the game. While I try to find the right spot to hide from her, she's trying to squeeze in right next to me and we're all a little uncomfortable. And maybe that's ok. I bet there's a few things along the way I can learn from her. And I wonder what happens if I embrace Lonely?