Relationally Busy, but Lonely

As Navstaff we aren’t the only ones who move a lot. Over the years I’ve met other families whose work has required frequent moves. What seems unique to our work though, is the amount of relational energy we direct toward campus, often leaving us with less capacity for peer relationships.

For many of us mommy missionaries, our status as unpaid staff doesn’t release us from our calling to the campus. Our hearts, our prayers, and our time is focused there. And we aren’t just putting in “hours” leaving us other “hours” for other things. Our work is developing relationships which is not just about time, but about being intertwined with students in areas of their lives that are often decidedly outside of the 9-5 window.

As an introvert with three junior high and high school age kids at home, my capacity for relationships is limited to begin with. Add to that my desire to develop more than just surface relationships with students on the campus and I get a little something I call, “Lonely.”

I’m with interesting people I love very much all day, and yet, I have extremely limited capacity for people my age, in my same season of life. And as much as I love my college student peeps, they aren’t a safe place for me to discuss the stresses of parenting or marriage.

It’s not something I can always fix. I can’t drop out of relationships mid-semester. I can’t carve out time that isn’t there for new relationships. But here are two things I can do, when the reality of my situation weighs heavy on me.

I can ask God to direct me to one person to give a little time to. 
  • Last year, when I was in a very lonely place, I asked God for direction and he led me to initiate walking with a woman in my neighborhood who I'd sensed was "friend potential" for a long time, but simply hadn't found a way to connect with.  Now we walk our dogs together once a week or so and chat about our families and kids.  After a year of doing that, our relationship has grown and deepened.  It was an easy investment of a little time that has yielded big results. 

I can raise my flag a little higher. 
  • With the Lord, that means praying over my situation and asking for comfort and wisdom. 
  • With my husband, that means clueing him into how I feel.  Often he has good ideas about how to use my time differently or people I might click with. 
  • With others.  One of the most fruitful conversations I've had on this topic was recently with an acquaintance I would affectionately label a "Townie."  She's lived in our town her enter life and has friendship dating back decades.  I explained to her my reality vs hers and a lightbulb clicked on for her.  She really hadn't considered how it might feel NOT to have lived in one community her entire life.  She has doggedly invited and included me ever since.  
May God grant us the wisdom to know where to spend our relationship capitol on campus without losing the capacity to have peer friendships too.  

Jess

Jess Dager and her husband Ben have been on collegiate staff for 11 years and currently serve at the University of Illinois.  They have 3 kiddos ages 13, 12, and 10.  Jess enjoys reading, singing, and laughter.  Her favorite part of working with students is watching God at work in their lives. 




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