Not a Loner! (Desperate Book Club – Chapter 2 – The Go It Alone Culture)

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“None of us are made to deal with life alone. All of us, even introverts, are made for relationship, to experience God’s grace through our dearest friends around us.” -Sally, Desperate 

A woman alone in her home, with sinful children and a messy house and she’s sinful and selfish, and mundane tasks everyday becomes a target for satan.” -Sally, Desperate 

Here’s the thing, I know that for some of you making time for a friend feels impossible.

You have little ones, and perhaps you’re pregnant, and you’re just tired. You are worn out, and the thought of having people over exhausts you. I remember those feelings.

A few years ago when I had two babes, my husband and I hosted a small group, that really wasn’t so small! We had 18 people in our home (all couples), but we were the only ones with children. At this time my babes went to bed at 6:30 at night, so it was fun to have friends over, and it was easy. When I became pregnant with my third, I was sick (I was sick with all my pregnancies). Think Kate Middleton in the hospital I.V. sick, that was me. And of course I was super tired. I told my husband, “I can’t do small group anymore, I’m just too tired.” He said to me, “if we stop doing it, these friendships will fade away because that’s what happens when you stop getting together.” I thought he was crazy. Of course our friendships will weather me needing a break!

He was right.

It’s been four years since I’ve had Caroline and we haven’t hosted or been in a small group since.

The tiredness took over my life, everything felt hard, and I didn’t want to do one extra thing. Friendship even felt too hard.

Our group of friends moved their small group to another’s home, and to this day they meet and encourage one another, they have children now, and it’s a good thing. But we missed the boat.

And honestly, I didn’t mind. Like I said, I was tired and life was overwhelming. So if you are in that place, I completely get you.

But

(you knew that was coming, right?)

The longer I kept to myself, the more lonely and depressed I became. I craved alone time, and just wanted everyone to leave me alone. When writing Desperate I told Sally, “I’m just a loner.” In which she promptly said, “No! You might be independent but God made you for relationships! We are not meant to be loners! You need a friend, and you need accountability, because a woman alone in her home, depressed, and with sinful children and your own sinful bent, is a target for satan.”

The truth is, I still struggle with cultivating friendships, but I’m getting better. I used to love to host small group studies in my home before my babies stayed up past 6:30 at night, but I’m committed to finding new ways to bring women together, to mentor, to be mentored, and to lift each other up. Right now I’m in a bible study at our new church because I’m trying to meet new friends. And when that study is done, I’m probably going to go back to leading a small group women’s study in my home because I miss it. Sure, I’ll have to figure out what that looks like with kids staying up until 8pm, but there are ways and God is kind. Perhaps I’ll have the study in Starbucks instead of my home until my children get a bit older. I don’t know yet, but I do know this: I refuse to be a loner.

Your Turn!

In chapter 2 (The Go-It-Alone Culture) I share the need for a mentor and advocate, and Sally talks about the need for friendships and initiating your own groups.

  • How are you cultivating friendships?
  • Are you a part of a small group?
  • Do you get together regularly with friends?
  • What holds you back from being a part of a group of women?
  • How do you make a group work with small children?

 

Past Book Study Posts:

Tantrums in Barnes & Noble, The Motherhood Nod, and Being Rocked (Desperate Book Club – Introduction)

Desperate Online Book study, Chapter 1: Ideals and Going Under

Related:

How Do I Find a Mentor?

Buy Desperate:

You can get Desperate - Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe at AmazonBarnes & NobleDaySpring (comes with a cute mug!) or at Mardel’s for 50% off!

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Photo Credit: Picture with me holding the sweet baby was taken at the Mom Heart conference by Alicia Wright

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  • Jessica

    I loved this chapter…. it spoke to me in ways I didn’t know a book could. Every word in this book has been a blessing to me. Thank you. http://andtheycallherblessed.blogspot.com/2013/02/desperate-go-it-alone-culture.html

  • Christy Fitzwater

    Dear Sarah, I have always said, “I’m a loner -it’s just my personality.” But God has shown me just recently that I was WRONG, and this is self-centered living. Thank you -God has confirmed His message to me through your words. And I pray He’ll use your book to bear much fruit for His kingdom. God’s blessing on your writing!!!!

  • Bethany

    I am part of a Bible Study that meets at 8pm–after most of the kids are in bed and our husbands stay with them. We meet every 2 weeks.

    I also have a group of girlfriends and we meet at each other’s homes for lunch and bring all our kids and we hang out and talk while our kids play. (It used to be once a week, but now it’s more like once a month) It is a bit much for me–the last time I hosted it, I just felt overwhelmed the whole time everyone was here and overwhelmed when they left and there was a huge mess I needed to clean up. I am pregnant with my 3rd, so maybe I’ll start hosting again when this next one is done nursing. :) Or maybe I should put away more of the toys before they come?

    I’m also involved in our Mom’s Group at church–we meet once a month for 2 hours while some teens watch our children at the church, once a month we have a playdate somewhere (indoor play places in the winter, parks in the warm months), and once a month we have a Mom’s Night Out at a restaurant or coffee shop.

    I am blessed to have friends who realize they need friends who invite me to do all these things–otherwise I would be a loner as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alisha-Sullivan-Hickey/100000509026770 Alisha Sullivan-Hickey

    Hey Sarah Love your new hair cut :) super cute! I can relate because I have always thought of myself as an introvert but over the years I have realized I like being in company of other women who are facing these same issues that I am. This book is soo good I am actually on chapter 14 but I have slacked off the past few days because I don’t want to finish it. I love it!!! I actually do meet with a small group bible study of women and itis very encouraging.

  • Charley Me

    Reading this chapter really made me miss the friends I left behind when we moved 6 months ago. We’re still trying to integrate in our church and haven’t formed any friendships yet. There are a few neighbours that I’ve connected with but nothing regularly. I’m where you were Sarah, just too tired and depressed to make much effort. First of all my house is rarely neat and tidy and I hate having someone over like that. I want my home to be where someone is comfortable and my house is too much on the messy side right now to do that. I’ve read your book and I loved it; I just need to get back on the wagon!

    • Charley Me

      PS I love your new haircut. It must feel so much lighter!

  • Diane Shiffer

    Sarah dear, I’m actually not even doing this study, but I was compelled to click on over when I saw the title in my inbox this morning. I am most definitely a loner (more and more as I grow older) and I’ve always felt guilty about that… so yeah, thanks for making me feel even more guilty, hehehe ;-) But also thanks for your gentle encouraging tone. I especially loved this line: “Sure, I’ll have to figure out what that looks like with kids staying up until 8pm, but there are ways and God is kind.” My own challenges are different than yours, but I am going to prayerfully consider stepping out of my comfort zone and stepping up. ((hugs)) and thanks.

  • TristineFleming

    Unfortunately for me, I’ve suffered many losses over the last couple of years that has prevented me from having an opportunity to get out. My in-laws, who used to babysit for us one day showed up at our house and told us they were moving to Utah…the next week! I was utterly devastated, because my mother was dying, also, from recurring breast cancer and there was no way she could help us. My husband’s brothers offered to help, but that didn’t last long. They soon went their separate ways, too, and eventually we had no one to help us, and we don’t have money to hire a sitter.

    Then my son got incredibly sick with a stomach issue that prevented me from doing anything but running to the ER and Children’s Hospital every other day (and no one found anything wrong with him). I won’t lie, I know (knew) I needed friends, especially when my mother died last May, yet no one helped me or my family during my loss. We were so lost and lonely. Our church didn’t even call when my mom died. No one in our small group called or brought food. And that was pretty much it for me. Since then I have tried numerous times to start bible studies at my home because it’s so difficult for me to find a sitter at night, but no one is willing or able. I’ve reached out so many times to get together with other women, but plans are always broken and rescheduled and eventually forgotten. This is not for lack of trying. I’ve done everything Sally suggested by being the initiator, but I don’t get anywhere. We have since left our church, where we were lost and forgotten, and have been trying to find a new church home, too.

    I can’t tell you how much I need women friends. I know how important they are, and I know how crucial having those friendships are for my well being. But I’m so alone in this. My husband works crazy hours and we never see him except on the weekends, so I’m so tired and so frazzled by the end of the day. And the one friend I do have taps me of my energy. She lives on the other side of the country, and when she does call, she doesn’t understand that I don’t have hours to “chat” about all of her problems. And she’s always trying to tell me how to raise my son, even though she’s never had children. So I have to distance myself from that relationship, even though it’s the only one I really have.

    So again, I’ve tried desperately to get something going but I get nowhere…

    • Janey

      My heart goes out to you, Tristine (beautiful name, btw). I know it gets discouraging when you feel like you’ve allowed yourself to be vulnerable so many times and no one has returned the gesture. I think in removing yourself from less healthy community and relationships you may have opened the door for better things to take their places. I’ve not suffered the setbacks that you have, but I have had periods of my life when I felt like I’d never have good friends again. It’s taken a few years, but I once again feel blessed to have a few good, deep friendships. I hope the same for you.

      • TristineFleming

        Thank you Janey. It’s been a rough few years. When my son was born he had excessive colic, too, so we basically didn’t go anywhere for nearly a year! I recently talked to another woman who was very excited about starting a bible study with me. We picked a topic and a day, and already she’s had to postpone. I was so hopeful for this to happen because I really need–more than anything–Godly women in my life and a mentor, much like Sally is to Sarah. I just don’t see that kind of fellowship in the churches around here, which is incredibly disappointing. But again, thank you for reaching out to me! That was very sweet of you!

  • KM Logan @lessonsfromivy

    For me, family is huge. I thrive when I get together with my mother and sister for dinner. Calling them on the phone is always a pick me up.

  • Shari

    Convicting!!!!! I used to be an extrovert, but I suppose I turned into an introvert because it was so hard to make trustworthy friends when my husband was a pastor. The Lord has moved us now and my husband is in secular work now and we haven’t found a church home yet. Part of me wants to be alone because I am just too depressed to try. The other part of me cries out of desperation for a friend. I do not know where to start.

  • MommaY

    This chapter gave me one of those “ah-ha” moments. I read this chapter with many tears and marking several paragraphs for reference. I have experienced cycles of loneliness and wonderful friendships, but it is hard. We move around a lot, almost every two years, and far from where we were before. Several years ago we settled into a place staying for four years. During this time I made wonderful friends, friend that brought out the best in me and made me a better mother just through their example. The time came for us to move again. This move was temporary only a year and a half, i didn’t reach out to make any friends in this time, because each time we move it seems to get harder and harder to put myself out there. I was so lonely. Now we have moved again. We have been here a year now, and I have yet to put myself out there. I have prayed for friendship, but I think I am just expecting God to deliver these friends right to my doorstep. I am still so lonely. I know I am a better mother when I have the influence of other great women in my life. I know this yet I don’t get out there and make it happen. Reading this chapter, has been encouraging and I have the wheels turning on a plan of getting out there again and making mommy friends.

  • Amy Marie

    How are you cultivating friendships? I’ve been trying to be better with this, but I have to remind myself to check in with friends and make an effort to drop them an email, send a card or even just pray for them! I do try with my 1 closet friend and my sister to invest.

    Are you a part of a small group? Yes. A 20′s and 30′s group at church. This has been great! It is singles and married couples and I really like that aspect! We only meet once a month though so it’s not a SUPER bonding group. I really crave a MOTHER’s group or a HOMESCHOOLING group for mom type thing though. I can’t host at my home in the winter because of my horrible driveway/snow.

    Do you get together regularly with friends? I try. I think part of it is my husband’s schedule is busy and it’s hard for me to take my children places and babysitters are expensive. Excuses, I know!

    What holds you back from being a part of a group of women? I think sometimes selfishness. I feel like I can barely keep things running at home & with homeschooling, that added relationships would be more work. However, I know it would be good for me and maybe I could be a blessing to someone else. Iron sharpens iron.

    How do you make a group work with small children? We’ve done book studies with all our children in the next room playing and watching a movie. It works SORTA. ;) We’ve also had it were we get a babysitter. I’m looking forward to my oldest daughter being old enough to pay her a few dollars and have her watch the kids. :)

  • adina

    I am a mom to a 2.5 year old boy and 23 weeks pregnant with our second and man I am so glad I found this book and these websites. I have always felt alone in many ways. I my feelings about being a mama about how to handle this. When I reach out to my mother she says well that’s what being a mother is about and i just have to realize and accept it. We have moved around a lot and I have a very close friend who lives close and has two children but she is never really there for me. Trying to get her on the phone is like torture. I really don’t know what to do and who to turn to. Everyone has a life and issues and problems of their own and it is really hard to find good friends. I always seem to put myself out there asking them over for lunch anything but I get nothing. And my sister who is a mother of 2 girls wants nothing to do with me and my 5 sister in laws and NEVER NEVER there. I don’t know why but all of these women in my life either enjoy seeming me suffer and just sit back a laugh but never want to be that rock I need even though I have gone out of my way for them. (well at least I think I have) I honestly feel very alone as I really think about what I am writing.

  • Jedi Jane

    I’m not knocking a Bible study, but one thing that has been a big hit at my church has been the handful of events I’ve gotten together just for women to get together a visit. Our culture keeps us so busy and doesn’t put a premium on just stopping and being in each others’ lives, so it really is a need of women that deserves some attention. You can try it yourself. If you know someone who loves to brew tea, or someone who loves to decorate or someone who makes a mean tray of brownies, ask them all for help: everyone loves to be asked to share their talents. Have tables or small groups within your big meeting, because more intimate visiting happens best in groups of 5 or 6 or less. Put out lists of conversation starting questions for everyone in the group to answer. Two of my favorites are, “if you were a kitchen tool, which one would you be,” and, “if you were a fabric, which fabric would you be and why?” Avoid questions that focus on the negative, like, “if you could change one thing about yourself…” or questions that are specific to your life situation (anything about husbands/children/other family members or jobs), but try to have open-ended questions that everyone can have an answer to, or questions that celebrate the different phases everyone is in (“what is one piece of advice you would offer someone younger than you?”). Publicize ahead of time the minimum age to participate and the fact that you won’t have any childcare. I also love to tell everyone to “bring your own tea cup.” You could incorporate a stand-alone devotional or a prayer time, but I know it’s also been a real blessing to the women in my church to simply have time to get together and gab. It might be something you can only organize once or twice a year, but it can be a great starting point for a deeper friendship, or it can simply be a great time to enjoy visiting with ladies you don’t normally get a chance to talk to.

  • Aleah

    Our church practices family worship — all kids 3 and older are in the service with their parents. We apply that theory to our small group which currently has three couples with young ones (16 mos, 11 mos) that we bring to the group. It does make it a bit harder to stay focused on the discussion, but we all rotate keeping an eye on the kids and bring plenty of toys so it usually isn’t a problem!

  • Amy

    I loved how Sarah Mae said she was born to be a loner. I feel that way too at times. I am learning to let friends in, really letting them in. Telling exactly how I feel. Yes I belong to a Tuesday Morning Bible study group and these women are awesome. I am the youngest in the room but they pray with me, encourage me, and help in so many ways, that sometimes it takes my breath away. My husband’s friend has started a get together on Fridays. He provides us with a babysitter so we can get out of the house. What holds me back is women are critical of other women, christian or not. They feel they have to give you advice if you want it or not… So that is the scary part for me. The last question I am still working on this. I got into the book I read all the way to Chapter 5… really great blessings. Thanks

  • Rebecca Peet

    I am very much an extrovert. When I quit working about 6 months ago, that was the hardest part but I’ve tried to make an effort to build relationships because there was no point sitting around waiting for people to invite me in. My husband and I are in a small group Bible study and I’ve really tried to reach out to the women in the group. I also joined a mom’s group that meets once a week. I try to connect at least once a day with one of my girlfriends whether it’s by text or phone or email or a playdate. It really helps with the lonliness. When my cup is full, I’m such a better mom.

  • Susan

    I am a mom to a 7 month old and a wife to a deployed military member. I’ve always been an introvert and had a few close friends, but most of whom lived far away. I identified with this chapter. Now that my husband is away, I’m quite lonely and bored at night after my child goes to sleep and this has driven me to reach out more than I usually would, cultivate friendships and try out various groups. I think this deployment is a good opportunity for me to reach out more than I would if he were still here. The support I’m already receiving from new friends has been great and leaves me wanting more. My goal for when my husband returns is to be plugged into at least one good mom’s group and to have good friends that I get together with regularly.

  • Cynthia

    I’m not doing much to cultivate in-person relationships. I spend more time texting and face booking…not exactly relational.
    Our church is a small group, so I guess that kind of counts. I’m still getting to know the women in our new church. I see a lot of potential for deep relationships, but we are not there yet.
    I haven’t gotten together with friends in a few months, but part of that is because I have a newborn.
    Small groups with kids can be tough, but I think part of the relationship can be watching other moms interacting with their kids.

  • http://sailorsprincess07.blogspot.com Katie

    This was a great chapter. I’ve been feeling like a loner, and I’ve been worrying about what is going to happen to me once my daughter is born in April. I have found out over the last little bit that it seems so much easier to just stay home than getting both me and my son ready and out of the house. Then there are some days that I just feel bad for anyone that we may come in contact with because I’m one of those mom’s who thinks her kid is acting out horribly, when he is just being a 3 year old (with a developmental delay and speech delay). I was very active in a lot of things before my son started his preschool class and then it just seemed like I didn’t want to try and go for 1/2 hour of my women’s group that I loved because I would have to leave early to take him to school. But I’m getting over that and we are going because he likes going to see his friends at the nursery and for me just being around these amazing women for just a little bit seems to help. I’ve been thinking about trying to fix all the relationships that I use to have and rebuild those friendships that I’ve let slide. It is so important for me and my depression along with the socialization that it can bring for my kids. Thank you for this chapter.

  • Carolina

    How are you cultivating friendships? Cultivating friendships intimidates me.

    Are you a part of a small group? I am involved in a young couples group at church that meets once a month, and I attend Community Bible Study weekly. CBS has been a great blessing, but I feel like I need another outlet for encouragement specifically for motherhood.

    Do you get together regularly with friends? I wish I did. Everyone’s so “busy” you know. But I think I should just send out a facebook status that says…”I need some “me” time, if any other mothers need some too, meet me at Barnes and Noble at 8 pm tonight.”

    What holds you back from being a part of a group of women? My babe’s schedule, not having a babysitter, and not taking time to initiate a group.

    I am enjoying your book so much Sarah Mae. You are taking the words right out of my mouth!

  • Jenn

    Oh Sarah Mae, you are so right! I am an extreme extrovert but with my husband working full-time and in grad school and two littles at home, sometimes it takes all I have just to show up for a little bit at our small group.

    But, I try to keep making myself reach out (we moved a year ago but are still getting connected) because I believe we are made for community. Thanks for the encouragement in this direction!

    And, I am loving Desperate! yesterday, I laughed out loud at your precious son applauded your reading at church ;)

  • Brooke

    First, let me say how sorry I am to Tristine that no one has been there for her, that is so sad.
    It is hard for me to me involved with a group of women. I am part of an online group and love it 95% of the time for the support they give. I am a female in law enforcement with a wonderful hubby and two wonderful sons in their 20s. In other words,. I live in a world of men. My husband and I are involved in a small group that meets once a month that is all law enforcement and spouses. It has just begun so we don’t really know most of the people well yet. It is often hard for my husband to get involved in small groups during the week because his work hours can be unusual. As for me, I have never had many female friends. I consider myself feminine but I don’t like shopping, and am not very good at make up and hair. Sometimes I think I am missing something not having close female friends, but then I realize the wonderful, close, loving relationships I have with my husband and sons and I know that I am blessed. I may just be peculiar, but then the Bible says we are a peculiar people, lol.
    Blessinsg!!
    Brooke

  • Hollie

    Ahh… this is so me. Between raising two little ones, working from home 20ish hours a week and taking care of a friend’s two little ones three days a week, I feel so alone a lot of the time. My husband and I aren’t close with our families and we can’t often spare the money for a sitter. I hate feeling like a complainer, but it is difficult to be alone with little ones so much of the time. I haven’t read chapter four yet – going to a soon as I shut the computer off. So I’m looking forward to reading what you and Sally have to say about this. I definitely need some inspiration in this area.

  • Handsfull

    I have to confess, when I read how Sally had pursued the relationship with you, Sarah Mae, I was jealous! I haven’t had a mother since I was 23, and my relationship with her before that was difficult, so I never really experienced the nurturing/training/caring relationship that is automatically associated with the word ‘mother’. We have no extended family that is either willing or able to invest time into our family, and I long for people who will actually pursue relationship with us. I am tired of being the one that always makes the effort to ring, and honestly think that if we didn’t ring them, none of them would ring us unless they had to.
    I have several older women friends, but am wary of asking them to invest in me – I know how easily people say things like ‘you’re like my sister’ but when it really comes down to it, I’m not their sister, and they don’t act towards me like a sister would.
    HOWEVER! I have just this morning, taken a step towards taking a friendship to what I hope will be a mentor-type relationship, so I haven’t given up entirely!