Lonely Disciples

My 20 year high school reunion is fast approaching. There are get togethers planned, veggie and fruit trays to be assembled (bought) and haircuts to get for self and offspring. 

And I imagine the conversations with my girlfriends and their families. Seeing each other changed but not changed, lounging in lawn chairs looking over our children and remember who we were when and rediscovering who we are now. 

And exclaiming ‘I don’t feel old enough to….’

It’s an introspective time of life. I find myself craving the activities and music of my youth. Looking back and feeling that a lot of time has passed but yet, still feeling not old enough. 

This is a relatively common feeling for me,this not feeling old enough but knowing that there are follies of my youthful self that have been left behind. Thankfully. 

It’s a sandwich sort of feeling. And a feeling that isn’t only reserved for my reunion ponderings.

As I age I become more and more aware that my learning and growing under loving mentorship is a necessity of life. To sit with someone who can speak into my life as I guide the lives of others is a deep desire of my heart. But having this type of relationship where we learn from another in the context of journeying life together is not as easily brought about as I might hope. 

Sometimes we look at others and think they spiritually have it together. Maybe they pray really well in public, maybe they teach or preach, have a degree, are amazing at teaching biblical truth to children and we wish we could learn from them!

And we see in them a level of spiritual maturity and think, ‘wow, they really should be discipline someone’.

But that doesn’t mean that they’re not longing for someone to journey with them. That there would be someone checking in with them, showing them strength where they feel weak, showing them the hands and feet and heart of Christ as they show it to others. 

It can be really lonely when people think you don’t need to be discipled anymore.

We never stop learning and growing and evolving to be these people Christ envisions us to be. 

And no matter who we are, what we can do, or how we can impact others, there is a longing in our hearts to be seen for the flawed and growing people that we are. 

Some of the most spiritually lonely people I know are in vocational ministry. Because our spiritual needs don’t stop with the 30th Bible study we’ve led, or the 100th child we’ve taught. 

And it’s so very hard to ask someone if they will walk this spiritual walk with you. Sometimes I’ve been met with ‘but you should be discipling me!’

Maybe it’s a misunderstanding of what being discipled is. It’s not one sided in learning. It’s not perfection of person or hierarchy of degrees. 

It’s realness and God-focussed and laughter and reminders and prayers and not being shocked by the humanity of the other person. 

And it’s an antidote for the spiritual loneliness and surface connections that can seep into our Sundays.

So how do we connect with each other and journey together?

We ask, and we answer yes when we are asked. 

We don’t let others different gifts make us feel that we lack.

We are real and true and honest with each other. 

We are serious in the care of each other as we don’t take ourselves too seriously. 

And we ask each other if we are alright. And we answer honestly and listen intently. 

And we seek God’s face and truth together. 

It means we need to be brave. It means we need to say yes when no is much more comfortable and less busy. 

And it means we let our loneliness give way to leaning in and on as we recognize that we are God’s good gifts to each other.

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