the lie of loneliness

This past weekend marked my 28th year of life (I can’t believe I am now 28, I have lived 28 years! What?!). I started the beginning of my 29th year surrounded by almost 400 people for three days.

And at one point I felt completely alone. Growing up living with 10 other people in my immediate family, feeling lonely is a very rare occurrence for me. I grew up extroverted, and have never lacked family or friends. This emotion of being lonely was totally foreign, and also a huge fat lie.

For the first time, I felt like I had too many friends. It took me 28 years, but I had this feeling of finally reaching my limit— the capacity cut off.

You know how Jesus had the inner circle of 3 disciples that he kept extra close out of the 12? I would choose 6 people. Instead of 12 disciples, I would choose 24. In fact, right now if I were to pick bridesmaids out of my girlfriends (this is how the female brain works before you get married) the closest of the close, I would probably only be able to narrow the number down to 18. And that is just females; do you know how many amazing guy friends I have? I am blessed.

Friday night I left work and headed to New Philadelphia’s yearly church-wide retreat. I made it just in time for the evening message. Since the retreat had started the day before, I felt like I did a cannon ball jump into the water instead of slowly getting my feet wet, then wading up to my ankles, my knees, my thighs (the water gets so cold at that point!), and so on. It was good, but a little disorienting.

After the message, friends that weren’t too busy serving, or drunk in the spirit, bombarded me with birthday wishes and hugs and love. But then there were so many people I didn’t get to see, it felt like I saw no one at all. We had our small group session time. I told them it was my birthday, why? Why, as humans— do we need to make everything about us? I am seriously so selfish in the flesh sometimes a lot. I want everyone to be my friend, and I want everyone to love me, and I wanted everyone to know that it was my birthday so therefore it is the best day on the calendar and please be happy that I was born on this day almost three decades ago, and love me, and notice me, and give me presents, and love me!

But, if I had seen and talked to all the people who I wanted to… would I have even had a real conversation in such a short amount of time? The next day of the retreat during the free time I wanted to hang out with everyone, but I realized that if I had done that I would have ended up hanging out with no one. I felt burdened and sad. How silly.

I am loved. I have so many people who love me. I am not alone. I am surrounded. I had great conversations with some people and I had fun jokes and quick hugs with others. I met new people and loved it. I don’t have a cut-off, I don’t have a limit, because God’s love and joy that flows through me and from me is never-ending. I just needed to realize that I need to fill myself up by spending time with him, if I want to spend time with other people and not lose that joy. I also realized that I still want to be friends with everyone, I just can’t help it. But I also want to be fully present and invest in the lives of those who invest in me. I will learn a balance. Eventually.

birthday donut
Our school loves the teachers so much, they buy the employees donuts for the whole staff on every birthday. The birthday winner gets a special heart donut, I was so excited I bit into before I got a picture, hehe.

birthday cards and cake
Megan surprised me with a cake and the K-2 grade students poured into my room singing during lunch break with a bunch of beautiful home-made cards.

rachel cake

You can tell that I had a student take the above picture^^ One of my student’s had her mom make me brownie cupcakes because she knew that I prefer them over cake. She was super super super excited to give them to me. I love being a teacher!

Image

At the retreat! Having dinner with my Emmaus girls. SERIOUSLY LOVE THEM.

I have more pictures of the retreat that I will post later; these are pictures from my phone. My students treated me like a princess all month leading up to my birthday— they were the stinkin’ cutest things ever. Being a teacher when your birthday rolls around is the BEST OCCUPATION to have. Hands down.