Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? KJV
The overhead lights were dark and the nicely furnished living room emanated the potential of being a warm, cozy retreat, but instead it felt like a tomb, vacant and cold. In the shadowy chamber, you could barely see the outline of an upright, cushioned recliner, bearing a sitting solitary woman as she blankly stared off into the empty space. She’d been there for several hours, unmoving, and looked almost catatonic. Her face showed little expression. Her eyes were vacant and her hands though clasped together, lay in her lap, lifeless. Her mobile phone, an older model, laid next to her elbow on the arm of the chair. But there would be no calls, no texts and no reason for her to expect anything to be any different, even though she still hoped a little. She was alone. Oh yes, she had family and people who claimed to be her friends. But they seldom called, and even less frequently visited. They didn’t even really know what was going on her life because they were understandably busy with their own. In fact, they innocently assumed she had a vital, and thriving social environment. But that was the furthest thing from the truth. In the past, she’d tried to phone them, and though they were polite, she could tell that her call was an annoyance, or at least an unwanted interruption. So rather than try again, she gave up. She couldn’t rememberthe last time she’d had an invigorating conversation. But, here alone with her muddled and slow moving thoughts, loneliness was gradually and simply killing her. The fatal and unrecognized plague of loneliness had found another victim and no one would even recognize what was at the root of her eventual demise, disease and death. The question is: Do you have to suffer at the hands of this foe? May I reply- No!!!! No!!! No, you don’t!
In the past several years, as I’ve been working on the manuscript of my book, THE DRAMA OF TRAUMA, I’ve noticed that there is a very unusual but significant symptom reflecting the effects of trauma that’s seldom considered, let alone understood or talked about. You see when you examine the roots and fruits of trauma, a pattern emerges that is often ignored. This pattern reveals that where ever you find trauma, you’ll also observe loneliness. And, like the question about which comes first, the chicken or the egg, where ever you find loneliness, you’ll also discover trauma. The two are dangerously paired. We shouldn’t therefore be surprised when we read in Scripture that even Jesus experienced these two related conditions while on the cross. “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” expresses His feeling of having been abandoned. These heart rending words emote the sensations that are often associated with intense loneliness. Furthermore, the cross was one of the most traumatic deaths a human being could endure, and as Jesus died there for us, He carried our sin, sickness, grief and and a host of innumerable human failures. The victory over loneliness begins with accepting what Jesus experienced in our behalf. Thankfully He faced and overcame the pain and effects of trauma-induced loneliness through his death and resurrection for humanity. But how does this all relate to us today?
The new statistics for the United States reveal that loneliness is on the rise. In the year 2000, a survey was done that discovered that 1 out of 5 people were considered chronically lonely. The newest survey revealed that this percentage has significantly increased. As of 2010, 1 out 3 people are now identified as chronically lonely. What’s more as the Baby-boomer generation heads toward retirement age, researchers forecast that this percentage is about to spike! There could be as much as 75% of the population deeply lonely. But who are these people? They are the elderly, the poor, the bullied, the shamed, the rich, the unemployed, the infirm, the physically isolated, the different, young homebound mothers, spouses, singles and basically anyone who doesn’t have daily healthy interaction with people. But for the Christian, how does this apply?
As I’ve been reflecting on the seriousness of this matter, after having reviewed numerous contemporary articles, and considered the increasing number of research papers and some ministry publications, I’m sad to say, from what I’ve assessed from these documents, that much of the Church is oblivious to the extent of this escalating trend. Christians! we need to wake up to the immensity of this monster that is crippling, and yes, killing people on a large scale. Let me explain.
There is often a nearly invisible predicament that occurs when the desperately lonely, with all their various needs, tries to join Christian fellowship. That problem is avoidance. We must understand that there are degrees of loneliness and the trauma that comes with it is as unique as the individual personality. But I’ve begun to wonder if we even know what we should do when someone deeply lonely attempts to mingle in our circles. Do we know how we should react to them? What are the characteristics of a lonely person? How can we discern the real need? Frieda Fromm-Reichmann faced this same issue, and she chastised her fellow therapists for withdrawing from the seemingly unreachable patients because they were afraid of being contaminated by them, or worse, not wanting to face their own masked loneliness. But the changes that need to happen will not occur if we ignore and sweep this problem under the carpet. The question is: How can we deal with it if we don’t even know how to define it in a practical and spiritual manner?
Loneliness according to the definition that Fromm-Reichmann came up with is simply this. Loneliness is the want of intimacy! Wow. Its more than being without friends, or being cooped up because of disease, or even being dissatisfied with your relationships. It is the lack of intimacy. Therefore, loneliness is not an absence of people contact. Nor is it the lack of conversation and interaction. It is the lack of closeness that determines what brings on loneliness or not.
In like measure, we also need to define intimacy. In our very natural and carnal cultures, intimacy has become a word entirely sexually driven. However, true intimacy is not built around physical closeness. It is an attitude of the heart that brings a sense of worth and stability.
Dear ones, every human being needs to feel close to someone in order to live in a healthy manner. But human relationships can be changeable and lost in a moment. Additionally, busy-ness and activities with the people you associate with mean little when you’re lying in bed late at night and staring into the darkness wondering if this is all there is. So, don’t you find it interesting as a Christian that the primary spiritual calling, or what we were created for, is to first have intimacy with God?
The early Church believers enjoyed a fellowship that drew them together. Yet, no relationship was ever to take precedence over the fellowship with the Lord God. Likewise, if we lack intimacy with people, on top of feeling isolated from Jesus, we’ll never exhibit all of the fruitfulness that we’re designed to produce. Loneliness murders that possibility.
HOW DOES LONELINESS MANIFEST?
The primary emotion associated with loneliness is the sensation of rejection. Furthermore, feelings of worthlessness run a close second, and you need to know that they have a demonic origin. Nonetheless, the condition of being rejected, for whatever reason, is an aspect of loneliness that is probably the most damaging because it builds a platform for another foe- i.e. worthlessness.
Worthlessness comes about for two reasons. In the Biblical sense, worthlessness is always related to the spirit of Antichrist, (in the Old Testament named Belial which is defined as worthlessness). In the beginnings of the rejection associated with loneliness, worthlessness seduces people to believe that they have no value. Their imaginations then tend to run wild as the negative possibilities are magnified and consequently makes room for increasing pain. For that reason, people come to believe that they’ve been rejected because they don’t matter or mean anything to others, i.e. something must be wrong with them. Then, eventually the spirit of worthlessness talks the individual out of believing in her or his personal talents, spiritual gifts and abilities, so that as the process advances the person gradually loses the ability to communicate and share who she or he is with others. Eventually, the victims relinquish their senses to self-pity and turn inward, ceasing to reach out because in his or her mind, “What’s the use?” The combination of these two foes create a formidable challenge. But, may I remind you, because of what Jesus did on the cross, this problem is not undefeatable. God has made a way out for the lonely. Let’s now take a look at some of the symptoms and behaviors often present in the chronically lonely life.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. KJV
Loneliness has a way of affecting the brain by causing a lonely person to fixate his or her thoughts into a mad cycle of pain and emptiness. This causes a wide range of problems and may actually embed an unhealthy pattern of thinking into the individual brain so much so that it can be a challenge to correct. As a result, the lonely person’s thought processes slow down and fragment. Paul the apostle, a man very probably prone to long periods of isolation and loneliness, explained the importance of staying focused on what Jesus did on the cross to prevent mental weariness.
Once the thought processes begin to disintegrate, a lonely person gradually loses the ability to communicate. What’s more, their social skills usually disappear. Therefore, speech and communication skills become increasingly difficult as loneliness enforces its agenda. It isn’t unusual for the lonely to speak in a slurred manner. They may also talk in a mumbling tone, making it hard to hear what they say. This is because, worthlessness convinces the lonely person that what she or he has to say isn’t important enough for anyone to hear, so they’re often unable to find the right words to utter. This may develop even to the point that she or he will stammer, or struggle to put sentences together.
Depression is a foregone conclusion in the chronically lonely person’s life. This is because loneliness strips the soul of its purpose so that he or she will feel the need to sleep all the time, especially during the daylight hours, as a means of escape from the pain of being alone. Then, because they’ve slept so much during the day, they won’t be able to sleep at night and will consequently wrestle with wild and negative thoughts that only take them further down a darker path. The fruits of depression are therefore as follows.
In connection with depression, hopelessness and despair are commonly experienced in the lonely life. Sometimes these fruits are difficult to discern. You see, on occasion an individual may “look” like everything is ok, when in reality, if loneliness has taken a long term hold, that individual may have inwardly given up. You can’t always tell by outward appearances. The chronically lonely think that they’re without hope and they don’t believe there can, or will, ever be any change in their life’s condition. They in fact, despair of ever being truly loved. As a result, an assortment of destructive thought patterns progressively gain ground. Hopelessness also inevitably produces an “I don’t care attitude”. It may affect how and if the lonely person practices good hygiene, how they dress, and it often produces an unkempt appearance such as disheveled hair, messy, dirty clothing and such. It’s not unusual to find that the isolated lonely person also does not eat a healthy diet and regular good meals. They often don’t eat at normal times either because they forget to eat or they don’t want to eat alone. This is especially true for senior citizens who live alone and experience long periods of time without people contact. Most of these conditions generally spring from the hopelessness and despair common to the lonely.
Self-pity is often another result of the combined effects of loneliness, worthlessness and rejection. It becomes especially a problem for the Christian when Jesus and the work of the cross and resurrection are forgotten. Elijah the prophet, after having defeated the prophets of Baal in the showdown on Mount Carmel, sunk into a depression that exuded self-pity. He’d lost his focus, but he was also emotionally, physically and spiritually spent from the intense conflict with the false prophets and of course, Jezebel. Then, collapsing in the desert under a skinny dried up juniper bush, loneliness and despair overtook him and he gave into self-pity spouting out incredibly hopeless words that expressed that he wanted to die. Self-pity is one of the most-deadly vices that loneliness makes use of. Moreover, it can sadly also be one of the greatest hindrances to liberating someone because when people who yield to self-pity they usually believe that they’re entitled to feeling sorry for themselves. In reality, the self-pity is actually an aim to get attention from the people they want exchange with. But, it’s always empty and without fruit.
In some situations, the chronically lonely person will become manic in his or her behaviors and speech. This is because fear and paranoia drives them to force socialization on others without being aware of their surroundings and the ones they’re attempting to engage with. Sometimes the combinations of this mania and fear cause the lonely soul to act out unsocial behaviors just so to get attention and a negative form of intimacy. This is especially true among neglected children. Negative attention is still attention, even if it’s not what they truly crave.
Chronically lonely people are often desperate for conversation and fellowship. For that reason, they won’t always know best how to connect with people that they want to relate to. What’s more, depending on the condition of their social skills, they may do one of several things. I say this so that if someone who is in this state approaches you, I would encourage you to remain sensitive, patient and understanding. Be sincere and kind. Don’t avoid them. Nonetheless you need to realize that lonely people will either be withdrawn and silent, or they will talk without ceasing. Lonely people have so many thoughts and words pent up within them, that if they find someone they believe will listen, they explode like a geyser waiting to blow. This is because they fear that there won’t be another chance or another person who might listen. If you give them room to express themselves, without allowing for co-dependent behaviors to develop, they will eventually get healed and become more particular in how much and what they say. But it takes time for that to come to pass.
Although many more conditions may be caused by chronic loneliness, the last one I want to mention may surprise you. People who’re persistently lonely tend to live in poorly lit and messy, even filthy, living environments. In some instances, this might be exacerbated by poverty. But, because loneliness has shut down the perception of order and structure, the heart broken souls are blind to the havoc surrounding them. In the most advanced conditions of this, they will need help to get out of their hole because the mess becomes overwhelming.
WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?
A LIFE OF PRAYER
As overwhelming as the pains of chronic loneliness can be God has made a way so that the believer can triumph. What’s more, being alone and isolated isn’t truly the problem. In fact, if you remember, loneliness is actually a lack of intimacy. You can be in a crowd and still be chronically lonely.
I’m increasingly inclined to believe that a great majority of believers have never learned the importance, or how to practice an intimate relationship with Jesus. And, I know that even though it’s not all bad, there has been an increasing trend in ideology and teaching that overemphasizes “self” and “personal identity” over and above a walk of faith. The spiritually minded believer is supposed to deny self and practice a humble servant’s heart. But the current trend on personal identity and value sets that idea aside. In some ways, in fact, we may have lost the sacredness of what a committed walk with the Lord looks like and one that isn’t so concerned about “ME, MYSELF AND I”. Therefore, when the Christian is called to walk with God in an intimate fashion, the focus becomes Jesus, instead of one’s personal situation or emotional desires. Walking with the Lord, is a daily discipline, and it should not be considered a religious ritual. It is instead an intimate exchange of the human heart with God.
Consider this. The early Church was radically inspired by dedicated believers who sought a personal sanctuary in God’s presence, so much so, that they journeyed and lived for many years in the solitary places of the desert, wilderness regions of the Middle East. There in that seclusion, they intentionally sought God. They focused on being alone with Him undistracted by people, pleasures and natural worldly circumstances. My question for you is this. How did these faithful ones manage to overcome the loneliness that would have been normal for anyone who chose such a life? They rarely had contact with people, and lived in a manner that was without even the simplest pleasures. How did they survive the isolation and primitive existence? I believe it was because these precious ones understood how to focus on the presence of God. They made it their single aim to fully and intimately know Him above all other things. Although I don’t recommend you slip away to live in a desert, I do think that we as contemporary Christians have misplaced our priorities and settled for shallow, superficial experiences that can’t produce the type of spiritual intimacy we’re been created for and inwardly crave. There is an intimacy, a spiritual exchange, that God has designed us for, and that will without fail defeat the woes of this world’s loneliness. Friends, family, spouses and other humans can only partially satisfy our need. But if this is so, it means that we need to truly learn how to pray.
Psalms 142:1 I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. 2 I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.KJV
In brief, prayer is not a religious ritualistic practice. It’s a two-way exchange that involves mutual communication between God and you. Let me make it simple. Talk to Him! Include Him in your life, minute by minute, hour by hour, day into day and circumstance after circumstance. Intimacy requires inclusion. Include Him in your every moment. Be intentional in your connection. Then LISTEN!! He wants to talk to you. You see, if you end the conversation, the intimacy has already ceased. Talk to Him. In fact, the Psalmist said it well when he wrote: I poured out my complaint before Him! Make yourself practice pouring your heart to Him, instead of looking for a human ear to listen to your issues. He is the best one to talk to! Lay aside all of your hyper spiritual vocabulary and be honest with Him and yourself. If you do so, you’ll find yourself growing to enjoy a depth of closeness that no human being can truly afford you. What’s more you won’t feel so empty when people don’t talk to you, or take time to be with you. He is there all the time waiting and listening.
FOCUS ON JESUS AND WHAT HE ACCOMPLISHED FOR YOU ON THE CROSS!
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Secondly, if we’re going to deal a deadly blow to loneliness we need to identify and accept what Jesus carried on the Cross for us. Then, we must pray those truths through with intentional application every day.
In walking out the work of redemption, and living according to what’s been accomplished in you in the New Birth, you need to train yourself to always look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Consider what He did and then line yourself up with those truths.
Isa. 53: 1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Loneliness preys on your feelings. Though your feelings may be real, and poised for pain, they’re not always the truth. In the New Creation, you’ve been seated in Christ, above all the experiences and feelings you deal with. If you focus on what Jesus accomplished for you and place your affections in who He is, you can then lasso your runaway imaginations, putting them under your feet, and take ascendancy over the pain loneliness exudes. But to do this you must choose to deny the right of your emotions to rule you and focus on Christ’s victory and the work of redemption.
Col. 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
There is an increasingly scary ideology being proposed by well-meaning teachers to modern Christians. It ignores the basics of faithful walking with God that requires discipline and putting off the old manner of living, by alternatively emphasizing a more “psychological” perspective of life. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be compassionate with the hurting, and deny the reality of the feelings people go through. But in the mind of many contemporary believers, emotions have become the truth. Therefore, in this frame of mind, the new nature of the believer is ignored in favor of a more “natural” angle. This truly non-Christian philosophy innocently pets the emotional state of the human and consequently makes excuses for carnal behaviors instead of nailing these things to the Cross. Please understand that it is impossible to defeat the trauma of potential loneliness if you remain in a fleshly state of mind. Your emotions may be real but don’t let them become your truth.
REVIEW HIS PROMISES AND MAKE THEM YOUR TRUTH
Thirdly, if you want to combat loneliness, you’ll need to review the promises of God on a regular basis. His Word is His bond! He has said He will never leave us or forsake us. Check out these verses and embed them in your heart.
Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; "He will never leave you nor forsake you.", 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
Joshua 1:5 "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."
1Kings 8:57, "May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us.(Psalms 37:28; Isaiah 41:17; 42:16
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
THE ROLE OF WORSHIP AND MUSIC
I’ve studied extensively and instructed about the subject of Praise and Worship for over 35 years. My experience in the past decade, however, has revealed that people are tending to lose themselves in their music and its technique, wrongly thinking it’s worship, when in fact, it’s not. Worship requires thoughtful, heartfelt expression to God for who He is. True worship, does not require music. In fact, genuine worship opens the heart to an intimate reciprocating exchange. But worship does not need music to be expressed. Music may unlock your emotions, but if the worshipper isn’t focused on who God is and adoring Him, the music will become an idol and subtly seduce faith away from knowing God. On the flip side, edifying and structured music, with a message and a direction, can be very useful, affecting the brain in a very positive way. This is because well-structured music can heal and correct destructive patterns of thought in the human psyche. Just remember, however, your music should focus on Him and be edifying in theme and and message.
PARTICIPATE IN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP AND FUNCTIONS
If you’re able to physically do so, you should try to attend a local church and or Christian fellowship functions. Genuine fellowship fuels the spirit. Regrettably, church attendance, however, is not the solution for the chronically lonely because in many Christian gatherings interaction, welcoming and helping people feel a part of the group, does not always happen. Years ago, it was a common practice for church members to invite newcomers out for a meal after church service was over. But sadly, today visitors, may not even see a welcoming smile, or a genuine handshake or “Hello, how are you?” The chronically lonely person may therefore find church attendance daunting and empty. We need to seriously ask, “How can we recognize the lonely and make them feel genuinely loved and welcome?” The chronically lonely person, saved and unsaved alike, will seldom try to find a church, if they don’t experience a welcome early on in the search. Be aware of this and let love be your manner with anyone coming to participate in Christian fellowship. If you are the lonely one and looking for fellowship, pray that the Lord will lead you as to where and when to go. He will not forsake you.
PRACTICAL OPTIONS AND APPLICATION
HELP THE CHILDREN!
One set of statistics suggests that 48% of lonely people are lonely because it is inherited, while 52% of lonely people are so because of environmental and external influences. Yet, if it is heritable, then parents who struggle with chronic loneliness, may consequently pass it on to their children by negative social modeling. What’s more, even if you were to fall prey to inherited loneliness, the Christian has been delivered from that through the redemptive work of Jesus. You are a new creation freed from a curse of loneliness.
I believe that one of the greatest needs that should be considered is when we think about loneliness, is that we’re facing a serious challenge with children suffering from chronic loneliness. This is due to many different factors, not the least of which is the fragility of the modern family. Parents who don’t know how to parent, and especially mothers who don’t know how to mother, are issues we mustn’t ignore. In fact, much of the research that points to the development of chronic loneliness is specifically centered around the lack of love and security in the home.
I asked Mrs. Dana Gould, M.Ed Early Childhood, a school teacher from an economically challenged small town in Kansas, if she’d received training during her education to recognize the lonely children in her classes. Her response was interesting, insightful and lengthy. She explained that teachers are normally taught to recognize the ravages of poverty and childhood trauma, because the need is so great. This was especially important in the area of the country where she has worked. But, as far as having received actual training as to how to recognize a child who is chronically lonely, it was somewhat of a new thought to her. Nonetheless, she acknowledged that wherever there was poverty there was almost always loneliness. She and I discussed this at length because her observations revealed that when poverty is present, social skills were always negatively affected. What’s more, she agreed that loneliness probably begins with the effects of poverty in the home situation. I am hoping that she and I can continue dialoging about this in time to come. But, for the most part, because the emotional needs of many school age children are so great, the teachers are faced with a huge dilemma. Who do you help when so many are hurting? Thankfully, Christian teachers, like Dana, know to pray for their students. The problem the teachers face is: Who do you reach out to so you can make them feel loved and secure if the home situation is destructive? The needs are like a bottomless pit. For this reason, teachers need to be trained to recognize that loneliness is a serious, often hidden problem that leads to all sorts of problems including disease. If loneliness begins in the home it will generally originate with the parents, who are also lonely.
We’re in an unusual time as the Biblical ideas about parenting and family are on the firing line. What’s more, the sociological generations of Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y have very different ideas about family and parenting. In fact, currently there is a dichotomous trend emerging, with one trends of being, parents who have been labeled as “helicopter parents”. These parents are generally Baby Boomer or Gen X parents, and they tend to hover over every area of the child’s life. On the other hand, children are being raised by bone tired parents, especially the mothers, because they’re busy just trying to put food on the table and pay the bills. Consequently, they have little time to be affectionate. In fact, sociologists are saying that mothering is becoming a forgotten skill.
I know many young mothers who’re doing a great job raising their children, but I’ve observed they’re in the minority. Sociologists have come to agree that loneliness often begins when Momma is unable to love her babies in the way that develops their inward security, and sense of well-being. The child who goes unloved starts to expect that they will also be un-loveable by other people outside the family. This is heartbreaking. Thank God, Jesus made a way to heal this. But nonetheless, there is a huge need for training in mothering, and also parenting.
GET A PET
Get a pet! An animal can never truly satisfy the type of emotional intimacy that God provides, or likewise what people are designed to bring. But, an animal, especially a dog or cat, because of the softness of the fur and the interaction, can be of great comfort when you’re forced into an isolated people-less existence. Just remember, prayer is always your best option when finding intimacy that is fulfilling.
SOFT STUFFED TOYS
In clinical treatment/ and research situations, especially when working with young abandoned and traumatized children, it can be difficult to draw the child out of his or her withdrawn condition to trust and love. It’s been found that in the early stages of ministering to such broken souls, and interestingly, similarly in clinical experiments with young monkeys, soft stuffed toys helped immensely. The tactile feel of the softness of the fabric eases a child’s emotions and they relax so that they can eventually be held and drawn out. Of course prayer must always accompany this form of ministry. Whenever dealing with broken people, which in essence is what a lonely person is, one must always be patient, gentle and allow the Spirit of God to work. He is near to the broken in heart. There is a softness in His manner that should be imitated in everything that we do.
FIND A HOBBY
Find a hobby you enjoy and do it habitually. Some people choose to write their memoirs. Others like to research subjects they’re interested in. The list is endless. Gardening is an option that would get you in the out of doors, and where you could get some fresh air and sunshine. Many lonely people are also vitamin D deficient and would greatly benefit from the perks of being in the sun where they can absorb the vitamin they need. Get a hobby.
Keep your living environment neat and well lit! Loneliness thrives in isolation, specifically where there is a lack of structure and where there is also physical darkness. Make it a goal to make your bed every morning. Do some daily house cleaning and keep your rooms picked up and dishes done. The lonely person often tends to become slack in personal housekeeping maintenance. Correct this as soon as possible. If you can afford to have a regular housekeeper, do so because it will enable you to have some regular people contact, even if it’s only for a short while.
Volunteer!!!! Self-pity is a hungry devourer when you’re lonely. If you can get out and join some organization where you can help people do so. Get your mind off yourself. Volunteer to help serve food in rescue mission kitchen. Offer to visit the infirm and people who are house bound if you’re not. Consider assisting at local schools where you will have contact with children. They can brighten a lonely dark day very quickly. But volunteer your time if at all possible.
SEE SOMEONE EVERY DAY- IF POSSIBLE
Make an effort to see and talk to people every day if you are able to get out and do so. Otherwise, if you’re in a confined or limited setting, such as a senior citizen center, nursing care facility, private house, farming region etc., you will need to find ways to have people come to you. This can be a challenge, especially if no one knows you are there. In such cases, you may have to then solely rely on your prayer life, which isn’t a bad thing anyway.
Don’t depend on social media to fill your need for intimacy and relationship! As helpful as social networking can be, you can easily isolate yourself by always sitting in front of the computer or being attached to your cell phone. Sometimes I think the words “cell phone” are more than just a name. People are becoming trapped, and “jailed” by these little devices, not even realizing that they’re losing important social skills. Social websites are great for connecting and reconnecting you with old friends and new. But they’ll never give you the type of complete and true picture of what’s going on in another person’s life. We may in fact actually be enabling loneliness by failing to meet people face to face, or phone one another. Guard your heart dear one! Make room for healthy socialization.
HAS THE CRYING STOPPED?
It’s sad, but there is a common plight in orphanages around the world. Babies are left in their cribs without human affection for days on end, and in all cases, a short time after their arrival to the institution, the crib room is silent. The babies stop crying when they realize that no matter how much they cry no one is coming to answer them. The loneliness and abandonment becomes a trauma, and their little heart’s hope is gone. As heartbreaking as this is, it’s a reality in a world that doesn’t understand that love is fundamentally necessary for human development and life. But think about this if you will? How many full grown adults, teenagers, wives, husbands, singles, elderly, and more have stopped crying because no one answers or even knows how to respond to their quest for intimacy? Regrettably, if this is the case, then we don’t even know who the lonely are in our societies and the Church. Like the babies, they’ve stopped crying because no one cares.
Dear ones, as believers in Jesus, we don’t have to permit loneliness to swallow us. We have a great opportunity for intimacy that comes from God, and He can soothe our human souls. But many people in and outside of the Church don’t know how to access this treasure. I urge you, child of God. Listen to this plea. You may not be able to cry any longer. Your hope may be gone. But rest assured. He has never left you, and He will never forsake you. Nothing can separate you from His love, not even isolation, human abandonment and crisis. What’s more, the people around you may not be letting you hear their cries. But, if we as Christians will be available and walk intimately with Jesus and practice the true nature of ministry- the servant heart, this plague of loneliness can be addressed and we will see people healed and directed to walk with Jesus.
(c) 2016 Tamara Winslow
(c) 2016 Tamara Winslow