When You Feel Lonely and Left Out

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depressionWhen You Feel Lonely and Left Out

By Money Saving Mom

“She didn’t pick us, Mom.”

Her voice quivered. The tears ran down her cheeks. And my heart hurt so badly.

We were on our way home from a party that both of the girls had been invited to. As soon as they got in the car, I knew something was wrong.

Their faces bore hurt. Their eyes were brimming with tears just waiting to spill out.

I gently asked what was wrong and slowly the story emerged.

I discovered that a fun game had been played and part of the game involved the birthday girl picking individuals to be on her team playing against the other girls at the party.

The only problem was, neither of my girls got picked. And, over the course of playing the game, everyone else did get picked.

They felt intentionally left out and slighted. Like they were the new girls in town and they weren’t good enough. And it stung both of them deeply.

Honestly, as a mom, I wanted to rush in and scoop them up and protect them. I wanted to express anger and frustration and say things like, “That was so rude and mean… You can never play with those girls ever again!!”

I hurt for them. But I knew deep down in my heart that trying coddle and bubble wrap my kids is doing them a disservice. I cannot shield them from hard things forever.

Because there’s a world out there that will crush you in two if you don’t develop backbone, stand strong, know the truth that you’re enough, and lovingly forgive and believe the best about people.

So part of growing up is learning to love others even when they do unloving things to you. It’s forgiving when you are slighted or skipped over — whether intentional or accidental. It’s not harboring bitterness and anger toward people who don’t treat us fairly.

We talked about this in the car that day. And I was taken back to many times in my life when I’ve felt lonely and left out, too…

When I was at that dinner with a bunch of Christian speakers and writers and I got the cold shoulder over and over again when people discovered my blog wasn’t expressly “Christian”.

When I was talking to the women at an event who seemed so excited to see me until a Very Important Person walked past and, all of a sudden, she couldn’t care less about me and only wanted to talk to Mrs. Very Important.

When that person I thought was my very good friend wrote a post with all of her very good friends listed and I didn’t make the cut.

When I was at that dinner party where everyone else knew everyone else… and no one seemed to notice that I didn’t know anyone.

When that blogger I thought I had really connected with at that conference went and talked behind my back about how she didn’t like me.

When someone I had invested in for years and years and thought was a close friend didn’t even acknowledge or reach out to me when I went through a very hard season.

…and the list could go on and on.

In each situation, I have a choice: I can be a victim or a victor. I can choose to be hurt, upset, angry, and bitter. I can feel sorry for myself. I can feel not good enough. I can live in fear of rejection.

Or, I can choose to believe the best. To trust that there was probably an oversight. To realize that the person probably didn’t intentionally mean to hurt me. Or, I can realize that it was a situation I need to walk away from or pull back from so that I can make room for deeper relationships with other people.

I also told the girls that the best remedy for times when you feel lonely and left out is to do something for someone else. Reach out to someone else. Be interested in other people’s lives. Look for ways to serve. Find opportunities to show love.

When you’re in a situation where you start to feel left out, look for someone else who might be hanging back by themselves, too. Strike up a conversation with them. Be the first to reach out.

When you’re tempted to feel hurt and upset that you got passed over for an opportunity, instead of taking it personally, look for the blessings in the situation and take the focus off yourself.

Just recently, we were having dinner with friends from out of town. At the end of the meal, they told us that they wanted to tell us thank you for what we did for them 5 years ago.

Honestly, I barely remembered what we had done. It was a gift we had given them during a hard time in their life. And, 5 years later, they traveled from out of town and took us out to dinner at this nice restaurant because they wanted to personally express just how much it meant to them.

As they shared with us what they were going through at the time and just how deeply our gift had touched them and inspired them over the years to give to others, I was taken aback. I had no idea that a simple gift would make such an impact.

But more than that, I realized why we had given them the gift. You see, the day I’d sent them the email saying we wanted to gift this thing to them, I was at one of the lowest times of my life. I’d just experienced a very hurtful and messy relationship breakup with a friend whom I’d thought was one of my closest friends.

It was ugly and hurtful and painful… there were misunderstandings, missteps, and miscommunications on both sides, and I was left feeling shredded and gutted and bleeding.

I wanted to run away from the pain. But I couldn’t. I woke up each day for months, with hurt and sorrow and sadness and a sick feeling in my stomach.

That day that I’d reached out to these out-of-town friends I’d hit one of my lowest spots. And I distinctly remember telling Jesse, “I have to do something for someone else! I just have to. Because I can’t sit here and wallow in this pain any longer.”

So he and I talked about what we could do and we hatched a plan to bless our friends. Taking the focus off of myself was one of the most healing things I could do.

It gave me perspective. It gave me a flicker of excitement again. And it helped me to stop focusing on how hurt I felt.

Little did we dream that our gift would deeply touch our friends in such a way that it would inspire them to pass on the blessing over and over again.

Here’s the thing: many times in my life, I haven’t chosen to be a victor, to reach past the pain and hurt and look for ways to bless others. I’ve sat and sulked. I’ve let the pain overtake me. I’ve held numerous pity-parties.

And I’ve missed out on many blessings as a result. Which is why I couldn’t let my girls just sit in the car and feel hurt and upset that they didn’t get picked at the party.

We acknowledged that it hurt. We talked about situations where they could inadvertently do the same thing to others and how they need to always be on the lookout for this. And then we talked about ways they could reach out to others who might also feel lonely and left out.

Just two weeks later, we were in the car again. And this time, Kathrynne said, “Mom, you know my friend so-and-so? I’ve noticed that they’ve seemed sad and out-of-place in situations recently. Could we invite them over to play? Because I really want them to be a better friend to them.”

There couldn’t have been a bigger beaming smile on my face if I had tried. Yes! This is what it’s all about.

The more you focus on others, the less time you’ll have to feel lonely and left out.

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If you are struggling with feelings of being lonely and left out, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Being Alone Is Scary, and a Great Use of Your Time

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Being Alone Is Scary, and a Great Use of Your Time

Why Creating Quiet Space for Yourself Is Crucial to Your Well-Being

By Brent Flory

When I was younger I used to think that extroverts liked people, and that introverts disliked people. Since I mostly enjoyed people and didn’t want to be known as antisocial, I quickly learned to identify myself as an extrovert.

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It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned that my definitions of extrovert and introvert were way off. It isn’t about whether or not you like your fellow human beings, it’s all about how you get energized. This understanding gave me the confidence to begin to admit that was I an introvert because I desperately need time alone to recharge my batteries.

Did you know that whether or not you identify as an extrovert or introvert that time alone is vital for you? I doubt many people would strongly disagree with that idea on the surface.But how often do you intentionally spend a chunk of time being away from others in a quiet place?

When taken to the extreme, noise pollution can affect your sleep, your heart, your mental health, and your school, work, and social performance. However, most of us don’t mind noise when it isn’t overwhelming. Rather, many of us crave noise and seek to surround ourselves with it.

Do you constantly listen to music in the car, or when you are walking? Do you have the TV on all the time, even if you aren’t watching what’s on it? Are you checking your phone incessantly for new emails, messages, or social media updates?

What drives us to envelope ourselves with sound and stimulation at all times? Is it really that you need constant noise, or are you trying to avoid silence?

I think for many of us, it’s the latter. We avoid spending much time being alone. After all, we knowsolitary confinement can cause people great psychological harm. Yet I don’t think we steer clear of time alone because we fear losing our mental health.

You refrain from spending quiet time alone because:

1. You fear being alone with your thoughts.

Many people avoid time alone due to a fear of experiencing loneliness while being away from the crowds.

2. You aren’t being productive.

If an activity isn’t getting things done, then you tend to think it’s a waste of time. This is a mindset I tend to subscribe to myself.

Despite these and other reasons we try to not spend time alone, there are many better reasons as to why we should spend time by ourselves.

Why You Need Quiet Alone Time

1. It gives you time to think.

How much of your life is lived being reactive instead of proactive? Slowing down and stopping gives you a chance to think about your life, where you are going and what you want. The fast track isn’t a great path to be on if you are heading for a brick wall. It’s well worth taking the time to ponder whether you are moving in a direction that is truly fulfilling.

2. You can get clarity.

Tough decisions you have to make can become very clear when you take time to sit and think them through without being bombarded by constant noise and stimulation.

3. Creativity is sparked.

I’m not very creative when I’m stressed out. Odds are neither are you. Creating space gives room for the creative juices to flow.

4. It reduces anxiety.

Being perpetually confronted by noise takes a toll upon us. Slowing ourselves down, being in nature and lowering our noise intake can also decrease our anxiety levels.

A friend shared several months ago that his doctor ordered him to spend time in nature because his health was failing. The doctor was giving sound advice. Time in nature is healing.

I’m not saying you have to go on a seven day backpacking trip. It can be as simple as getting away for an hour to go for a walk in a local park. Regardless of how or where you spend the time, being alone and quiet is good for your health, physically and emotionally.

Investing in being alone in a quiet spot can improve your performance, your health, and give you more peace. Make a commitment to spend thirty minutes after work in a quiet place for the next week. It’s a small investment that could make a massive difference in your life and career.

The Secret Pain of Pastors

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Ministry can be a wonderful calling filled with joy and celebration. Ministry can also be a place of discouragement, loneliness, and sorrow.

All too many pastors and ministry leaders can feel isolated and unable to express their suffering because of fears – some realistic and some unrealistic – of what could happen to them or the members of the congregations they serve if people knew of their personal struggles. Having served in ministry (full time and bivocational) for almost a decade, I (Seth) can empathize with this difficult perceived situation.

If you are in ministry and would like to come to a safe environment to discuss your struggles, receive encouragement, learn skills to enhance your balancing of ministry and life, or all of the above, there are men and women at CornerStone Family Services here for you.

If you would like to gift your church leaders with an opportunity to encounter this kind of spiritual and soul-nourishing experience, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 614-459-3003.

For more on the struggles of those in ministry, check out this article from LifeWay Christian Resources:

lonely pastor

Thom Rainer Reveals the Secret Pain of Pastors

By Thom Rainer

Not all the news about pastors is discouraging.

Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else. This dedication to their pastoral commitments may encourage more people to actually take the time to support pastor appreciation day so that those that put others before themselves are aware of how much they are valued in their community.

But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.

LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors. Among the questions they asked were two related to the hurts I noted above.

The Discouragement Factor

One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. More than one-half (55 percent) of pastors are presently discouraged.

I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find almost all of them experience deep discouragement.

Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:

  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
  • There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be discouraged.

The Loneliness Factor

Most pastors experience intense loneliness at times.

When we conducted our survey, more than one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55 percent, as noted above) said they were lonely. Again remember that this survey was for a specific point in time.

Which pastors experience the greatest amount of loneliness? Our study noted some discernible patterns:

  • There was no pattern of loneliness related to the geographical location of the church.
  • Younger pastors were more likely to be lonely than older pastors.
  • The larger the church, the greater the likelihood the pastor was experiencing loneliness.
  • The greater the education level of the pastor, the more likely he is to be lonely.

Why the Pervasive Discouragement and Loneliness?

Why are so many pastors struggling today? In an earlier article I wrote on pastoral depression, I noted the following possible reasons:

Spiritual warfare.

The Enemy does not want God’s servants to be effective in ministry. He will do whatever it takes to hurt ministers and their ministries.

Unrealistic expectations.

The expectations and demands upon a pastor are enormous. They are unrealistic. But if one person’s expectations are not met, that person can quickly let the pastor know he is a failure.

Greater platforms for critics.

In “the good old days,” a critic was typically limited to telephone, mail and in-person meetings to criticize a minister. Today, critics have the visible and pervasive platforms of email, blogs and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Failure to take time away from the church or place of ministry.

Workaholism leads to burnout. Burnout leads to depression.

Marriage and family problems.

Too often the pastor neglects his family as he cares for the larger church family.

Financial strains.

Many pastors simply do not have sufficient income from the churches they serve. That financial stress can lead to depression. Some pastors do not know how to manage the money they do have, leading to further financial strain.

The problem of comparison.

Every pastor will always know of a church that is larger and more effective. Every pastor will always know of another pastor who seems more successful. The comparison game can be debilitating to some pastors.

This one thing I do know: Pastors need our prayers more than ever. They need our support and encouragement. I am committed to pray for my pastor every day, even if it’s only for a minute or so.

Will you do the same? Our pastors pour out their lives for us daily. What can you do to help our pastors?