Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Loneliness

Bonnie writes, "My husband and I are new (8 months) missionaries in Central America with our 6 yr old and 4 yr old children. One of the things that I have been battling lately is feeling very lonely. We're working on relationships where we're at but it's slow going and there is a lot of mistrust with Americans, especially missionaries! Our friends back home have young families like us and have the desire but can't seem to find the time to communicate with us. I would love to hear how other missionary moms have dealt with this. Thanks!"

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


  1. Hi Bonnie! I will be praying for you! One of the biggest struggles seems to be lonliness on the field for so many (myself included). You find yourself removed from your friends and family and understandably it is more difficult to communicate for both of you so far away, making friends in the host culture on a deep level is a challenge, and the ex-pat community by nature is always changing. It has helped us to view friendships as seasonal ones - some last for a season (and it is a great season - they are valuable) some last for a lifetime. We post most of our energy in overseas communication in these lifetime friendships understanding that a lifetime friendship also has seasons of closeness (my best friend overseas and I don't talk every week but we know when we need to the other person is there).
    We also try and think of creative ways to keep in touch - another good friend and I email back and forth all the time. At least once a week what is on our hearts and what is happening - it is like an ongoing dialogue oceans apart. We also loook for the ex-pat community wherever we are living - not to avoid engaging with our host culture - but to quickly make friends that energize (some host friends do as well but quick host friends are often hard to come by because of langauge and culture). We find we are better at engaging culture when we feel energized and love.
    Then there are seasons where we do not have any close "friends" and feel quite lonely (we are battling one now). During this season I try and transparently pray for friendships int he past (and email to tell them) and seek what the Lord has for me - confess my lonliness and lean into him. I make a list of how I feel refreshed and actively do those things and also invest time into people meeting opportunities.
    Take courage the first year is a hard one and all the change in your life often results in feeling lonely with all the change in location friendships and life and young children make it all the harder to connect. God sees you in this season and loves you and sometimes meets you in your loneliness in ways you otherwise wouldn't hear Him - although it doesn't take away the heartache of loneliness sometimes knowing this bolsters our courage to walk through the lonely seasons. Love and hugs to you!

  2. Bonnie!!! I hear ya sista!!! It takes a long long time!! And ticos are friendly, but at an arm's length. They all have their families. Hang in there! keep working at it. I have been praying for 3 years for a friend and just now have some close to where we live. And I promise, we will get together in a few weeks. Do you guys have a church you go to? I found that if I asked the other young moms if they wanted to get together during the week and let the kids play at the playground, they all jumped at that chance. But I have to be the one to initiate it each week. Praying for one good friend for you!!!

  3. Well, I have been on the field for almost three years. I understand the loneliness issue more than I care to discuss. The closest missionaries to us, like us, are two hours away in a different country. We are in a pioneer work. That being said, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Though folks back home may have good intentions, they do not understand how lonely we can be. We must look to The Lord and not to others during these times. I am talking to myself just as much as anyone else. I must remind myself of this on a daily basis; but honestly, I don't remind myself enough. Then, the devil discourages me. It is all a growing process.

    I will leave you with a link that I think will help. It is by a veteran missionary geared towards new missionary wives. I hope you read it and get some encouragement from it.

  4. I keep wanting to write a detailed and wise comment and not getting to it, or finding the right words. So, I'll just throw two things out there:
    1) Yes, loneliness is a big deal for many of us. Huge. So, you're not alone in your loneliness, if that's any comfort. :-)
    2) For myself, I have had to learn to value what I do have. There was a time, when I really felt lonely. I didn't have any CLOSE friends, and I desperately longed for them. Then we moved on, and I didn't have any friends at all. Hardly even any good contact with people. That's when I realized that I should have valued the people around me more before that; they might not have been Anne's "bosom friends," but I shouldn't have been so lonely when I could have been making connections with them. (Now we're in an incredible situation where we finally have community for the first time ever. Don't give up hope.)

    I also learned a lot about loneliness from Elisabeth Elliot, and I wanted to share some specific ideas from her, but I can't right now.