Becoming a Lone Ranger in a world of noise and demand is an alluring idea. Anyone of us could become Lone Rangers, we could easily hide away if we wanted. In fact, for many it is compelling to dream about cutting ties and running away from it all. The idea of living on an island in a cabin apart from all of the demands of humanity is a strong pull. Some find ways to follow through.
As a pastor I hear stories of people who have decided, out of their own struggles, to check out, run, and hide. A man leaves his wife and kids, a woman turns to new addictions, another to affairs or abuse. For some attempts at suicide become part of the toxic cocktail aimed at turning off the pain, noise, suffering, or shame. At the end of the day, we all crave peace and at times we cannot imagine where peace might be found, so going it alone seems to be the only option left.
Our brains are wired for self-protection and can convince us that shutting others out is the only solution to our challenge. Addictions, broken relationships, and shattered dreams might be the fallout of our desire to run away, but yet in the midst of pain these consequences do not often factor in. We need a way out and can choose paths that do not usually lead to the hope we want. Anyone who has felt the pull of shutting down the internal chaos knows how baffling, painful, and confusing it can all become.
About 12 years ago, in my own dark times I was tempted to go it alone. I believed if I could only get away from others, I would find peace. I almost had my bags packed. Looking back, I am now grateful for something I could not have even named in my sorrow: the gift of community. When I faced loss and the overwhelming sense of despair, I found myself surrounded by people who did not demand anything from me. Rather, they were giving to me. They sat with me, walked with me, cried with me, and helped restore me. I had something crucial to help me see clearly again; I had people who were brave enough to be with me.
In the United Kingdom there is now a minister of loneliness. It is a sign that isolation and solitary suffering is a growing crisis in their culture, and perhaps in ours. That is why we need to aim with urgency towards building a caring community of faithful presence, love, and intentional trust here in Chestermere where loneliness and isolation is just as prevalent in our midst.
There is good news. Chestermere has support for you. If you suffer with addictions, there is a caring community for you. If you are a stressed mother, there is a gathering with an open seat for you. If you are dealing with big questions of faith, life, suffering, or loss, there are skilled counsellors, psychologists, and pastors in our city who can walk with you. The support you need is available. You are not alone.
I heard a story once of a new mom who lived across the street from another new mom, and they did not know each other as they each struggled with loneliness in their first year of motherhood. It took almost a year before they discovered each other and they both realized how valuable they could have been to each other if they had met earlier. Sometimes the support we need is closer than we think. You are not alone, you are part of a community, this is the hope we share together.
We’ve started an online resource tool to help you find support through various Chestermere and Calgary services. Visit lakeridgecommunity.com/care for further support.