Alison Marie Smith

Life, Leadership & Spiritual Formation in Lonely Places

Category: Loneliness (page 1 of 2)

Two Terrible “Friends” and Being God’s Beloved

One of the lines on my about page is, “I have felt loneliness deeply, I am called to care for other lonely people. I am convinced that in the deserted places of our souls, God desires to bring us water.”

In November, loneliness paid me an unexpected and LONG visit once again. It’s more than a little ironic that I became the person I was called to care for.  My visitor was a new form of loneliness. It wasn’t because I didn’t have friends (I did and still do have amazing friends!). It wasn’t because Sean was traveling for work. It wasn’t even because I felt distant from God. On the contrary, I’ve never felt more intimately connected with God than in the last two years.

Though I’ve never shared this openly on my website, many of my loved ones know that I’ve dealt with mild anxiety for several years. Since moving to Utah, it has ebbed and flowed. What I mean by anxiety isn’t simply worrying about things.

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The Freedom of Being Honest

I will never forget the first time my husband and I visited the Utah Ikea four years ago.

image002We were in our mid-twenties, newly married, had just moved to Utah from Michigan, and needed to furnish our new apartment. With a tape measure, store map, and golf pencil in hand, we rode the escalator to the showroom.

Immediately, we were surrounded by shopping carts filled with crying children. Each cart we passed seemed to contain at least three, sometimes five, little humans, pushed by their courageous mothers. I tried not to stare as I internally exclaimed, “Where am I?! Is this a Twilight Zone episode where children rule the world?”

I’ve obviously seen children before, and I adore their honesty and humor. But I had not seen them in such mass quantities. According to the 2010 census, Utah has the largest household size in the country, almost one full person above the national average. One explanation for this is that Utah is home to the Latter Day Saints’ (Mormon) religious headquarters. The church values family highly, which they often express by having many children. People warned me that living in Utah was like living in a different country. But I was unprepared for the cross-cultural dissonance I experienced…

Read the rest of my story over at the InterVarsity USA blog

Navigating Loneliness in Southern Utah: An Interview with Trevor Hollis

All of us at some point or another have felt lonely. Sometimes we might feel disconnected physically- because we live alone or far from friends or family. Sometimes we feel disconnected emotionally- because of unresolved conflict or maybe a lack of shared interests or experiences. The passion behind my blog are these very issues- how do we not just survive loneliness but learn to thrive in the midst of it?

One thing that helps me navigate loneliness is hearing the stories of others who have struggled in similar ways. Today, I want to share with you the story of one of my InterVarsity colleagues, Trevor Hollis. Through our conversation, I was encouraged by Trevor’s resilience in the midst of loneliness as a student and now full-time minister at Southern Utah University.

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Praying When Words are Hard to Come By

This year I celebrated my fifth anniversary with InterVarsity. Depending on the day, I either want to have a high-energy dance party or take a long, luxurious nap. I’ve seen students delivered from addictions while fearing that my husband might lose his job. I’ve experienced the beauty of marriage along with the grief of broken relationships. In both joy and heartache, these two words have been constant: change and uncertainty. It has been exhilarating and exhausting.

Unmet Expectations

After my first year with InterVarsity, my husband and I married and moved from Michigan to Utah. It was an exciting time filled with hope, but the transition was more difficult than I had anticipated. Painful conflict with people around me, left me feeling isolated. And the isolation deepened. We had moved from a culture where singlehood was celebrated and late marriages were the norm, into the world headquarters of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church, notable for its high premium on family and childbearing. We were in our mid-20s without children; we were the oddity.

Click here to read the rest of my story over at The Well

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