Inside the Fishers YMCA chapel is a rack holding booklets about common and painful struggles. Seeing which titles are taken constantly reminds me of the hurts around us. Though we live in desirable Hamilton County, loneliness often hides behind the smile.

For all its terrible pain, what good might come from our lonely times? I think Andrea Lucado is spot-on in her observation that, “Loneliness can be effective at changing us for the better, forcing the layers off and allowing us to do brave things, appreciate relationships, and find friendships with people we didn’t think we could befriend.” From her book “English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith.”

Not for a second am I trivializing the pain of loneliness. Rather, I want us to get it out in the open for how hard it is–and see what we can do about it.

If you are lonely, please be my guest at yChurch this Sunday. Though it’s easier to hurt alone, I’m convinced “with” is better. No perfect people here. You’ll do well to drop expectations and come willing to meet a few folks to see if any feel like the kind you’d like to know a bit more.

To make that as easy as possible, we provide a space and time after worship for refreshments. I can hear the introverts pulling back already. I understand: I’m more of an introvert myself. So here’s the trick: get to the coffee as quickly as possible. Put a cup in one hand and a muffin in the other. Now you’re safe from having to shake anyone’s hand. Tadaa!

Let the extroverts come to you. Say as little or much as you’re comfortable with. We have some folks who probably talk even in their sleep, while others are content to sit quietly in a busy room. Just be who you are, trusting God to bring someone along who would genuinely like to meet you.

I’d like to meet you, too. If you want to be prayed for, it would be my pleasure. If you want me to carry the conversation, no sweat. Pastors get paid to talk, you know. Prayer is where the chapel comes in handy, a quiet place just around the corner from where we have refreshments.

I post this with a prayer for you that even this Sunday, God who “sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6) will provide a meaningful human touch for you.