No one escapes loneliness. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have or how much family surrounds you, there are times in all of our lives when we feel completely alone.
I’ve known loneliness in my life. I’ve been lonely, as I’ve lived with the people who know me the best, as I have left large gatherings teeming with people, while sick and shut-in and while well enough to get out.
I was so ill when discharged me home after three months in ICU, doctors warned us that we should do everything possible to not be exposed to even the common cold. This was necessary precaution, but it didn’t do any good for my basic need to interact with other people.
My outings were limited to medical appointments, which only reminded me of how much I was shut out from the rest of the world. I was able to stay connected to the outside world through social media. While Facebook gave me the illusion of being connected, it left me more isolated and failed to make up for real life connection.
They say we have never been more connected as a society and at the same time we have never been so lonely. Loneliness has become an epidemic problem.
We have withdrawn ourselves from one another. We keep ourselves busy and distracted. We say we have a lot of friends, but do we really cultivate deep friendships?
We’ve made it more about width than depth when it comes to our social circle. We discard relationships as easily as clicking ‘unfriend’.
I can tell you I know the bitterness of loneliness in our online world. But, I have also known the sharp sting of it in a real wide web of people.
No one with a heartbeat will escape loneliness. And it will stab at your heart. There are seasons in life that will leave you more prone to loneliness. When death takes away loved ones, when health fails and leaves you shut-in, when children take wing and fly from the nest, when for any reason you are abandoned in a bustling civilization, loneliness hurts.
But, even in your loneliness, don’t be deceived into believing that you are alone.
We do need to do better for one another. We all know how much it hurts so why do we leave one another in our loneliness?
Are we keeping ourselves so busy and distracted to keep away from doing the real work of relationships?
You stay busy with activity and you lose out on time to really connect by simply being together. It is happening in our homes, our neighborhoods and our churches.
“What should we do about it?” we ask.
There is no shortage of ways to drive away loneliness.
Think about one of these ideas:
Reach out to someone who needs you as much as you need him or her. If you are lonely, guaranteed you can find someone else who is lonely. Make it a priority to care for others who are lonely.
Take a break from social media. If you are on any social media, regularly evaluate the level of distraction it is for you and if it is hindering real life connections, step back for a set time.
Go for a walk with a friend. Get outside, get some exercise, and do it with a friend. It provides opportunity to talk about life.
Invite a neighbour in for tea. Sipping tea with a neighbor is a lovely way to develop a friendship. Whether it is in one of your homes or in the yard while the children run around with wild imaginations. Step outside of your comfort zone and get to know a neighbour.
Host a family game’s night. Everyone bring treats and games and you are set for families to spend an evening together. Build settlements, yell “Pit!”, split your sides with laughter at the charades, and get sticky caramel sauce all over your chin.
Be vulnerable and invest deeply in friendship. It takes time and faithfulness to stick closely to someone through thick and thin and build enduring friendships. The joy that comes from having a friend you can turn to at any time is worth more than any cost it might demand of you.
Visit a senior who lives alone. Some of the loneliest people in our world are seniors who are living alone. Aging, health limitations, and busy families cause those who have celebrated many birthdays to be more prone to isolation. Let’s do better at making sure those who live alone are not so lonely.
Include a single person in your family’s activities. Don’t be surprised when a friendship with a single person blesses your family just as much or more as your family may encourage him or her. Set another place at your family meal table, laugh loud with them as you play Dutch Blitz, be available to listen to their hopes and fears.
Plan a simple party in your neighborhood. All you need are simple invitations and a neighbourhood. The party could include ice cream. Other ideas include road hockey, a community dinner, or picking up garbage on the side of the road.
Stay connected with family. God places us in families and the joy that comes from family is as real as the heartbreak that can come from fractured relationships. Live with an attitude of humility with whomever grows up into your family tree.
Attend your church meetings. Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Open up your lives and homes with those whom you regularly gather together to corporately worship the Lord. Grow in the grace Lord Jesus Christ together, pray together, sing together, exhort and build one another up.
Join a community of people with similar interests. Pick up an old hobby or acquire a new one. Surround yourself with others that can help you develop your abilities. Support others to develop theirs. Always be ready to discover something new.
Get to know someone who is different than you. Don’t close yourself in. We are all unique. Always appreciate those who are not the same as you. They can expand the world you live in and help you to develop compassion for those who suffer from things that are foreign to you.
Brighten someone’s day with a smile. Just do it. A genuine smile can transform a person’s day. Be generous with your smiles.