The only way for your life to be different is if you take a good hard look at it and figure out what exactly needs to change. And my life needs a good hard look right now.
In some ways, I am feeling a little snarky as I write this. I am kind of in an off mood. So this might not be the chipper Katie that you sometimes hear from.
Charged with this task:
December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)
I have to admit that this has been a really strange year. If I look back on it all and try to capture it in one word – that word would have to be lonely.
I pick that word, because it captures both the way I have felt and the way I didn’t feel.
In the midst of community and people, in the midst of a marriage and a family, in the midst of lots of people and relationships – there have been so many days where I have felt incredibly alone.
Alone because who I am makes me different from other people. As a pastor, I am apart from my congregation. As a woman, I am apart from my male colleauges in ministry. As a young person, I am apart in the midst of gatherings of older folks at meetings. As a person of faith, I am apart when we gather with friends who are not. As someone who is not a mother among family members who have kids and grandkids. And sometimes as the conversation gets rolling, I feel very lonely… even in the midst of community. I long for people like me to talk with. I realize just how alone I am.
At the same time, I have tried in many ways to combat that loneliness. Our young clergy lunches have been a beacon of community and fellowship. My online connections through facebook and twitter and my writing have provided an outlet and a place to find familiar voices. I am learning to find those common places with older folks and men and parishoners and friends that I can hold on to when I start to feel lonely again.
I also have learned in some ways to be okay with the loneliness. Running was an outlet for a while – although the weather is colder and I got lazy and that stopped. Crocheting has become a powerful way to be with myself… something to keep my hands and therefore my mind busy.
I have all of this talk about being lonely and I wonder if anyone out there reading would think that I am single. I am not. I’m married to a wonderful guy – but even in marriage there is loneliness. That is not something I expected. I didn’t expect the days when our schedules didn’t match up and the house was empty. I didn’t expect the days when we were both so busy doing our own thing that we barely talked. We each have our own little corners of the house: his office and for me, well I move around between my office and the couch and whatever other warm little nook seems appealing that day. I didn’t expect that our working lives would be so compartmentalized from one another. And I didn’t expect that we would have no children.
That last one is probably my number one source of loneliness. Just the two of us doesn’t quite seem to be enough for me. I want little laughter rippling through the house. I want teasing and tickling and the grumbles of a child who doesn’t want to eat their peas. I want family gathered around our dining room table. I want stuffed animals lying around that children forgot to put away. I want to be woken up in the morning by kisses and tears. I want to tuck someone into bed at night.
This year I realized that our cats – as much as I love and adore them – cannot replace children in my life. And while Tiki and Turbo provide immense happiness and companionship, they are not mine in the same way.
Not having a family makes me very lonely.
All of that being said – what word would I want to represent the next year of my life?
I cannot make children come into my life. It may not be a reality for next year. But I do want family to take absolute priority. I want to find new ways to be family with congregation members. I want to take my own family more seriously and less for granted. I want to talk with my brothers and sisters more often. I want to spend more afternoons with my mom and dad and in-laws. I want to go on more dates with my husband. I want those relationships to be more important than anything else. I want next year to be about family.