Let’s face it, no matter where you are on your journey in this life, nearly all of us have experienced isolation. Isolation, by definition, is to be removed from or apart from or having minimal contact with others. There are many ways we can find ourselves isolated; we may find we are isolated from social environments, isolated financially, isolated from being in a work atmosphere, or even geographically isolated having been relocated or moved. While I knew growing my family would change the dynamics of our home and social life, some of the isolation I’ve felt at different times certainly wasn’t anything I was prepared for.
Let me just first say, I LOVE being a stay-at-home mom to my three girls. Four years into an 11-year career as a dental hygienist, I had my oldest little girl and returned to work. Soon after, I found myself a single mom, and I had no choice but to put in the hours and provide. Seven years later, after the birth of my middle daughter, I knew I wanted something different. I just knew my girls were going to grow up way too fast, and I didn’t want to miss that! About two months after her birth, my husband suggested I stay home with our girls. This decision didn’t come lightly! I had always wanted to stay home, but after a divorce, I busted my bum to make ends meet, and the thought of relinquishing that control was downright frightening!
After dozens and dozens of prayers, I felt God saying, “Do it!” Have you ever felt that peace when you’re about to make a decision you aren’t sure of but can feel God nudging you to put one foot in front of the other and walk?! It seems so juvenile to think God had to tell me, at 34 years old, “Trust me, stand up, and walk out the steps laid before you!” Nonetheless, I turned in my resignation to the dental office I called home and started my new role: Household CEO!
I remember dreaming of all the activities and day trips I’d do with the girls! How productive every day in the home would be! Boy, was I unprepared for the overwhelming array of feelings I’d have! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the phase of child-rearing is so incredibly lonely. Can I get an amen?! I’ve talked to parents over and over, and most agree that it is incredibly difficult to maintain friendships with little children at home. In conversations, it’s been suggested as children age and become involved with sports or activities, you then befriend your children’s friends’ parents; however, with non-school-aged children, it can be very difficult to have nurtured, healthy friendships!
With a new baby and sending my oldest off to second grade, I thought surely, I’d figure it out! With time, I began to feel the weight of being lonely fall heavier and heavier on my shoulders. By the time my husband got home from work, I couldn’t wait to just talk to someone—anyone—who understood more than two-word sentences and could talk back to me in an actual conversation! My need for relationship with others seemed like it might be too daunting, so, despite having friends and siblings, I understood they were busy living life and didn’t want to burden them with my needs. I was lonely, struggling with postpartum hormones, and, oh yes, newly pregnant again!
While we try to not be a child-centric home, my two youngest are 373 days apart! Yep, you read that right—one year, one week, and one day apart! Going anywhere requires the packing of a mini vacation, and it never goes as planned! Even the most simple errand is often complicated by some sort of emergency dealing with vomit or poop, someone refusing to sit in the stroller, or the all-too-familiar middle-of-the-store tantrum.
They recently turned one and two years old, so it’s becoming “easier”; however, those first six-plus months after my youngest was born…WOW!! I was very guilty of making every excuse of why I shouldn’t even bother trying to leave home. Even at their ages now, I have to remind myself that we will be okay if we venture out and that life happens!
Now, let’s get something straight; God certainly intended for us to be relational. He planted a seed and created a longing in our hearts of connection with others from the very beginning. Genesis 2:18 tells us, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” We NEED encouragement and strength from others in our tribe! We NEED a few someones standing in our corner to turn to for Godly sound advice when Satan sets up traps and seeks to devour! How often do we find ourselves in a place of loneliness, and we slowly start to buy into the lies? We start to think our kids are too crazy to go on that play date. We start to believe no one could possibly understand our “issues.” We tell ourselves everyone else has a good marriage, and surely, they weren’t arguing with their spouse late last night.
Can I tell you, we are all sinners saved by grace! We all have “issues”; we all have shortcomings! But wouldn’t you know, Satan prowls on your desire for relationships. He wants nothing more than for each of us to feel lonely and isolated from those connections with others that our heart longs for. Satan knows if he can displace you from those relationships, he can get you in a place of vulnerability.
However, in our circles and relationships, we will find support and someone who can pick us up when we fall! Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” By doing life in community with others, we are able to form relationships that will sustain us on the bad days and see us through the adversity life brings. God’s desire for us is community. As we mature in our faith, we grow in relationships. As we grow in relationships with others, we grow in our relationship with Christ!
In the midst of my own isolation situation, I literally started praying friendships into my family’s lives, and I began being intentional about where we spent our free time. For those first few months after our middle was born (and I was pregnant with our third), our “date night” was a newly married/engaged small group through our church. It was four couples and provided life giving relationships. The transparency and honesty provided unity, and that unity facilitated bonding and healing that we all needed! Can I tell you that those couples are some of our greatest friends. If I’m honest, our closest friendships have all begun in a small group setting.
As a dental hygienist, creating a fun, comfortable atmosphere for my patient, which allowed them to be more relaxed and comfortable in my chair, usually began with the typical “How has it been going?” question. And, usually it led into another conversation starter. I can literally strike up a conversation with anyone! I love talking and sharing with others, but it took me a long time to realize the paths that led me to where I am today are truly the conversations God wants me to use to create relationship with others!
How many of us have those “Hey, how are you today? I’m fine, thanks!” conversations over and over again? Those conversations don’t grow us. They don’t create bonding, safety, and community for friendships. I’ll be the first to admit that my past isn’t pretty. I’ve walked my fair share of hang-ups in life, but the blessings have been abundant! Divorce, pregnancy losses, remarriage, co-parenting, working through the emotional trauma of sexual abuse, surprise pregnancies, entrepreneurship—and that just scratches the surface.
Hear me out, friends; without that divorce, I would have never gained the wisdom of creating a co-parenting relationship worth replicating. I couldn’t encourage other parents struggling with co-parenting in ways that could forever shape their child’s life. Without the pregnancy losses I experienced, I may have never seen the surprise out-of-wedlock pregnancy as God’s promise to me to never allow infertility struggles to destroy my next marriage.
God truly has made beauty out of ashes! The life I’m living is never what I thought it would be—it’s so much sweeter than I ever could have imagined! His ways are higher, and His thoughts are wilder! What you have walked out in this life is worth sharing with others. You aren’t alone in your struggles, and someone needs to know they aren’t alone, either. Share your testimony, link arms in relationships with others, find healing from the heartache, and know you’re abundantly loved!
Lastly I wanted to share some tips for ways to connect with others—specifically moms. When I wasn’t sure where to start finding friendships, I created this list to help encourage me to take a step of faith and to give things a try that seemed too far out of my comfort zone! May this list also be a blessing of encouragement to you.
✅ Connect with a small group in your church. I found it beneficial to join a women’s group to help with the struggle to maintain my own identity, as well as a group for my children and me (family group).
✅ Plan play dates with other moms and children.
✅ Go on double dates with other parents.
✅ Sign your children up for activities and sports.
✅ Attend activities through your job/work life.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. — Deuteronomy 31:6
Stay the course and be well, friends!