While enduring a midlife crisis, I left my job, my church, and the town where I had lived for 20 years. I moved to Seattle with a new job, new church, and a new group of guys sharing my new home. This is the story of how God provided friends and everything else I needed in Seattle!
As I approached my new destination, I fought the fear left from my drive through the steep and dangerous roads through the Cascades east of the city. Arriving at my new house, I found no one there to greet me. I knew where my new housemates hid the key, so I let myself in.
My emotions were almost more than I could take: fear, loneliness, and confusion.
I got busy unloading my car and getting ready for work which helped me temporarily forget how I felt. When my housemates later arrived, I introduced myself and received a polite but distant welcome.
Obviously I would have a lot of work to do building trust with these guys, but I took it as a challenge. Three of them were clearly straight and had girlfriends, but one might also have been SSA (same-sex attracted) like me. I knew I would have to wait to come out to anyone.
All of the guys were new believers, having only been Christians a few years at most. Their love for God soon became obvious, and that was the common ground that united us and helped us trust each other.
They respected me as an older brother who had followed Jesus Christ for years, and I found myself sharing stories of my own relationship with God while they eagerly listened.
Several of my housemates eventually became friends, and I started getting to know others at church as well.
Soon I felt happy, connected, and at home. I was no longer afraid! Only God could have arranged things to take care of me like that!
One funny house-story very much involved my SSA. We only had one bathroom, so three of the guys waited in line to take a shower every morning, wearing only their boxers during that time. I made sure I stayed in my room then because I didn’t want to get caught looking at those guys the wrong way.
One day, one of their girlfriends opened the front door and saw a guy, not her boyfriend, in his boxers. They were both embarrassed, and after that all the guys were fully clothed around the house.
As for my new church, many unchurched people were becoming Christians and joining our congregation. Once I went to see several pastors baptizing new converts at a nearby beach. Dozens were baptized that day after the lead pastor taught on being a genuine Christian. I loved the excitement of sharing in the joy of their newfound faith in Christ!
My new job went well at first, and in that way God provided the money I needed to pay my bills.
Unfortunately, circumstances would change in a way that would jeopardize everything . . .
Have you faced the challenge of starting over in a new city alone? How has God shown His faithfulness during times of severe loneliness?
Hey Marshall! I have never faced that challenge. Even when I went away to the university, I took a girlfriend with me. As to fear, loneliness and confusion, the memory your emotions triggered was my first couple of weeks in my new job of social work. I was overwhelmed with all the emotions, and I kept running to the beach on every break to watch the waves and pray. I was so overwhelmed by young girls running away and ending up alone on the streets, all the sexual abuse, etc. I didn’t think I was going to make it. But God was faithful, and one of the ladies in that office became one of my best friends.
Yes! I love the way God took care of you. That is my main point in writing this. I want to inspire hope that when any of us are overwhelmed with negative emotions we can trust God to provide the support and encouragement we need. He loves His children and takes care of us!
Your writing and your life do inspire hope, Marshall.
Thanks so much John!
In times of severe loneliness it’s easy to feel like God has never really provided, and so he surely isn’t willing to provide anything this time, either. But looking back this simply isn’t true.
It’s a little corny to share here, but one night I was praying for more intimacy and connection. I went to bed unsatisfied, but resolved to yet another night of patience. In the minute or so between getting in bed and my phone’s Do Not Disturb kicking in, I got an email notification–announcing a YOBBERs Google Hangout! (This was before we used Zoom.) It was my first one; I had just made the decision to support YOB on Patreon earlier that day. I had no idea there was a hangout scheduled for that evening. I got up and joined, and went to bed a few hours later buzzing with hope.
More recently, I was struggling with loneliness really badly one Friday night. I prayed about it and texted a friend about it to ask him for prayer. Praying about it and telling someone about it was helpful, but I couldn’t shake the gloom. I tried my best to be patient. Later that evening, I got an invitation to a spontaneous board game night. I felt like God had provided. Like, I could have instigated the board game night, but sometimes loneliness has this way of convincing you you’re powerless. I think God had to provided for me in that moment because I couldn’t provide for myself.
And then there are times when nobody reaches out. I pray, maybe even reach out to a few people, but nobody is available. But even in those times, I’ve often encountered God, reminding me that he’s with me, reminding me that this life is just an eyeblink in the grand timeline of eternity. God provides for me in those times too.
Thank you Ryan for sharing…terrific how God provided in these times.
Wow, how cool to read this backstory on your first Hangout, Ryan. Had no idea all that went into it for you. Love the journey you’ve walked with us since. Love you, brother.
“…sometimes loneliness has this way of convincing you you’re powerless.” And that powerlessness always seems to arise from feeling unwanted or unworthy, It’s a lie tho. Betting there are more guys feeling alone for that reason than connected.
Speaking of feeling unsomething, Tom mentioned Zoom Room on another post and I thought it was the name you guys gave to it, a YOB thing. I didn’t know Zoom was a thing.
One of our patrons coined the term on a Zoom call one day and we rolled with it!
Since moving to a new place with my mom 3 years ago…hundreds of miles from where I grew up…I’ve had to deal with this. Even after these three years, I still don’t feel like I have connected with anyone much. I’ve tried…offered to help and serve and give…but without any real connections here, my offers have been ignored.
However, recently, I do go and volunteer to serve feeding needy people after the Hurricane. It was set up in the parking lot of a church in town. I helped for 3 meals…a joy actually to serve the Lord…but it did strike me that everyone seemed to know each other and they talked amongst themselves and I couldn’t get a word in. I may have been almost invisible to them, but the Lord knew…and in the end that’s what counts.
As Ryan shared here, keep praying and joining in on activities like you did. God will provide! I will be praying for you too, WD.
Also, it helps to be regularly involved in a church.
[…] starting a new life in Seattle, I saw God provide for me in so many ways, but I never got to see all of what my life […]