starting over


We’re nine months into our new life in California, and I’ve been carrying around a pretty unfamiliar emotion to me… loneliness.

I’ve tried to call it other things (a “funk”) but that’s inaccurate. I’m always giving myself counseling (the upside of being a pastor is the free counseling), and I think I have most of the answers to why I’m feeling lonely.

I moved from Arizona where I lived my whole life. I worked at a church as it grew from 500 people to 6,000 people. I had deeper roots than almost everyone there. The people I worked with were my best friends (all of my groomsmen worked there in some capacity at some point). I felt like I was really known and valued (except by that one guy who gave me the boot, but that’s a different topic for a different therapy session).

The thing about being new is that it is impossible to be known. It takes so long. You spend so much time figuring people out and being figured out. I have no idea how some pastors bounce from church to church to church every year or two. I can understand WHY they might, I just can’t imagine how hard that has to be.

I don’t think that loneliness has to be anyone’s fault. It can be totally natural. It can be a symptom of larger issues, but not necessarily.

I guess the best thing to hear when you’re lonely is that you’re not alone. So… is anyone out there feeling what I’m feeling?

Have you had a chapter or two in your life when you felt lonely, even when you were constantly around other people? Have you been in a situation like mine? How long did it take before you felt at home where you were?

20 thoughts on “starting over”

  1. I can resonate with that Ry. Although, sometimes I can’t pinpoint it and say that it’s necessarily “loneliness”… at least at the dictionary definition level. At times, I just feel as if I’m spinning round and round and nobody gives a rip (even though they do) and I’m trying to figure what in the heck the Lord is doing with me. Who I’m supposed to be. Why I’m where I am at this point in my life.

    And I believe that feeling masks itself as loneliness. Looking at it now, maybe it’s just a moment that’s actually close to God and away from “people”, I just can’t seem to pick up on it.

    I’m rambling here though.

    I do however, have for sure spells where I feel alone and then I just realize that I’m not with my wife and son and just REALLY miss them.

    Miss you here man.

  2. This is exactly how I feel up here in Seattle. I miss Calvary. Though I do feel called up here, at least for school, so I can count Jesus as my friend and manage just fine for the time being.

    Plus, there’s always Facebook…

  3. I think the solution is to move back…. maybe in our apartment complex šŸ˜‰
    We will be praying for you, Ryan. We miss you a ton

  4. Been there and are there. Although I have the love of my life spending every day with me, I cannot help but feel alone. Just like you Ry, my roots have been ripped from me. It’s been the hardest 18 months of my life, but I have realized that I can only fully trust in the LORD.

    Know that I still love you and that you’re not alone. Hopefully somewhere we can all resolve this loneliness.

  5. Hey Ryan,

    You are definitely not alone in this one. I have been there way too many times and am there right now. The worst was 5 years ago when my family who had been living no more than few miles from me moved back to Ohio. Yeah, I had Stacey and some friends but then there was still a loneliness, there was hardly anyone or anyplace really to go anymore when the pressures of life come. And you know me, my life is one big pressure cooker to begin with. Still even though I have found others in our church family, the feeling of being disconnected is there. Not the same. Over the last year or so through the trying times of lay-offs and financial insecurities I have learned to lean more on Stacey and God to get me through. Loneliness is tough but like you said, these are chapters in our lives that will soon come to an end. I will be praying for you…

  6. Ry

    I know how you feel … I am just a little ahead of you time wise here up in Nor Cal. I felt that way in AZ too for a while. I think that we are always making new friends but we don’t realize the hard work that it is when we are in our comfort places because we have so many friends around us that we don’t have to work quite a hard.
    In jobs where you have to be relational it is sometimes hard to not feel like you are “on” all the time. Since you have to work on relationships at work, sometimes you get burnt out on other relationships. Lucky for us we have great jobs where we work with great people so the two overlap some.
    I think it takes a couple years to really feel like you belong in your new place. Lean on Him … it brings a whole new meaning to Jesus is your homeboy! and of course you have Linds too!

    You aren’t alone… what you are feeling is normal when you move to a new place… the honeymoon as warn off and now you really live there. In my experience it gets better! Hang in there!


  7. Jaydubbs- I’m with ya. I’m constantly asking God “What are you doing in this? What are you trying to teach me?” Miss you too, pal.

    Willie- The jury is still out on Facebook. Not sure if it is helping or hurting me yet.

    Katie- We have a Chili’s like 5 minutes away from our apartment, as well as 5 million grad schools.

    Cameron- I can’t even begin to imagine the loneliness you’ve endured this past 18 months. Thanks for sharing that.

  8. Mike and Andi, you snuck in as I was typing the other responses!

    Mike- looks like Ohio is on both of our radars. Linds misses her fam out there big time.

    Andi- yeah, it will take me a couple years to feel like this is my place, these are my students, and for them to feel like I’m their guy.

    you guys are bringing some much needed commonality to my day.

  9. Me… 4 years ago. Wish i could say it gets better with time but it really doesn’t it only starts to hurt a little less.

  10. ryan (and ill assume lindsay too), im so glad you said something, personally i know exactly how you feel… and i feel like it took me a good 3 years and sometimes it even slips back, it should take you less time though b/c you have all these students that truly love you and want you to succeed and be in your life here.

    personally ive felt like loneliness, for me, has always been God’s cue for me to trust Him. but it looks different everytime, sometimes its to challenge me, sometimes its to grow closer/vulnerability, or grow as a person/uncomfortability…

    not sure if that helps alleviate the “alone” feeling but we loved hanging out with you two on sunday, please call us again…

  11. It probably doesn’t help when your wife throws fits huh? I’m sorry.

    At least we got Bella back…

    Oh, and Katie…I echo Ryan, TONS of schools here. California has kids who need to learn to talk too!

  12. I understand bro. I came to Calvary almost 8 years ago from my home church that I attended as a kid and then worked at for 8 years of my adult life. I felt like a misfit at Calvary for a long time – over a year. It started feeling more and more like home. I still feel sad inside when I think of my South OC friends that I never see even though my roots run so much deeper with them. I think it took a few years for me to feel really at home here. I always felt loved, but not at home. I’m just saying that I relate and I also know that you are doing the right things. You aren’t isolating yourself or anything. It’s just so different. We love you!

  13. I totally understand and feel the same way sometimes. I moved from the east coast to Cali in 2006 to be near my kids again. They moved here in 2003 with my ex-wife. I was here about 2 weeks and I attended a singles night for my age group at a huge church in Irvine. One of the first things someone told me that night is how shallow people here are. I found they were quick to say hello and introduce themselves, but slow to get to know each other. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Californians, I married a wonderful Cali girl last year. But it does seem difficult to make close friends since I have been here. I’m sure I have something to do with it as well. Also for me part of the reason for feeling lonely is there are more people in Orange County than in the entire state where I grew up. Having my wife and her family close by, knowing God has a plan for us and this is where he wants me right now keeps me going. Hang in there. You are doing a lot of good things for the students of OC.

  14. i appreciate your thoughts here man. definitely been there and definitely go there now and then too. we really should grab coffee sometime. if only we lived closer…

  15. thanks for this dose of raw-ality šŸ™‚
    praying for both you and linds…

    my personal experience with Arizona and the community there surfaces deeply rooted nostalgia constantly. (i’m a flowing faucet of nost-a-goo)

  16. I moved from the northwest to Arizona about a year and a half ago, and we’re still feeling it. It’s not that we don’t have people here that we love and appreciate, but you simply can’t replace those lifelong relationships overnight. My wife and I are in this awkward social spot where it feels like we’ve been here a long time, but not long enough to develop truly deep friendships.

    There are many times when I feel like AZ is home, but there’s probably a weekly moment where I really miss my other home in Portland. However, in the loneliness, it’s been a really great time to connect with my wife and enjoy the time we have together. I also have to remember that, as cliche as it sounds, God has us in AZ for a reason and he’s using this time to both shape me and shape the community I’m a part of.

  17. Hey man, we all have our hard times. It’s not about who’s is worse, but it’s about doing this together. The only way to endure is that we know that we are all here together.

    I am here from you. Let’s try to connect and get back to being those friends we used to be!

  18. I love you Ry.

    I have never been one who could stay in one place for very long. Since i was 17, i never stayed in the same city for longer then 6 months. I had groups of friends come and go just as fast. The more i think about it, I never had a best friend during those times because I hardly knew my friends. When I came to know Christ, i was so excited. i don’t have to go through that anymore… but yet, here I am in Mexico. Coming close to being done, and off to another new place (not sure where yet). Although it is different because mainly I have Jesus in my life, I still have good friends, and I know I always will have both of them. That certain loneliness has never really went away. If anything, when Christ came into my life the feeling accelerated. And i see no sign of me settling down in one place anytime soon. Even when im at home with my family, i never really feel at “home”.

    Christ challenges me everyday, reminding me that all i need is Him and its true. Without Him, persevering through this “fleshy” loneliness would be impossible. This loneliness grows my faith in Him, so i welcome it. I cant really explain this.

    I understand that i am set apart, and that i dont belong to this world… Maybe, i’ll never feel like im at home until im actually Home.

  19. I owe some replies on here!

    Nicole- we love hanging with you guys (specially now that Bella is the dominant one in the dog relationship)! I definitely feel the love from the students like you were saying.

    Eric- I can resonate with the misfit thing. That has played into it as well. Calvary’s definitely smoothing some of my edges šŸ˜‰ I can’t even remember the last McLaren book I read haha.

    Wayne- what church in Irvine?

    Tyler- seriously man… I think we’d be good buddies if you lived out here.

    Amaris- If you are ever lonely, Linds and I have found the solution to your loneliness. Jesus is great, but you’ve gotta meet my friend Josh Simpson haha!

    Joel- I like what you’re saying about having time to connect with your wife. We’ve definitely had more time together since moving here. God’s doing something pretty special in our marriage. Special doesn’t mean easy sometimes!

    Travis- you complete me.

  20. Ryan – I love how transparent you are! I have had times in my life with very similar emotions. I think in those times you ask God a lot of “why” questions. My biggest growth has been to stop asking the “why” questions and start asking God “what” questions. So instead of asking God, “Why am I going through this tough time?” Ask God, “What are you teaching me through this?” For me this changed my perspective and gave me freedom from things that or questions that aren’t answerable without time. It is evident that you were pretty hurt by the transition out of your last church. Is there something that needs closure there? I love you bro and miss you!

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