After my previous post (CLICK HERE if you have not read it or this post won’t make much sense!), I have continued to think more about this subject of loneliness. It is a vital subject. It is so important simply because almost all of us experience loneliness, to some measure, on a regular basis. Since it is part of all of our “pilgrimage” in life, I wanted to talk about a few of things that have kept me afloat over the years.
Beyond my living overseas (which is innately lonely), I am still single. Though I have had some of greatest roommates in human history, the last three years have seen me living in Asian apartments by myself.
Additionally, I have taken hundreds of flights by myself and spent WAY too many nights in hotel rooms with just me, a bed, and really bad Asian TV as my only personal contact. Heck, I’m embarrassed by the number of movie theaters of which I have played the role of “that creepy guy” sitting off in the corner by himself. That guy who couldn’t drum up a single friend to catch a flick with him. . . yep, that guy has been me in places like Bangkok and Hong Kong more times than I care to mention. All of this puts me in the unenviable position of perhaps being an “expert” on the whole area of loneliness.
So here are a few additional thoughts I have had on staving off the pangs of loneliness in my own life. I would love to hear your thoughts at the end of this post. . .
1) You are understood in all things by Christ Jesus (especially in this area of loneliness) – I will not spend much time on this, as I dealt with it in my precious post. However, even this week I have been touched by just how lonely, isolated, and even despondent the Bible clearly shows parts of Christ’s life were.
All within Christ’s last week before the crucifixion, His disciples couldn’t even stay awake for Him during His darkest hour (Mark 14:32-46), Christ was betrayed by a disciple (Matthew 26:48-50), and He was denied by one of His closest friends and confidants in the world (Mark 14:66-72). These are brutal betrayals to a level that most, if not all of us, will never face. Aside from this, He was literally beaten, spat upon, and went to His death completely alienated from all of His followers and friends. However, Christ faced them all in excruciating fashion.
When loneliness latches on, I find it helpful to remember that Christ really does understand in a first person, extraordinarily empathetic way. HE is with me, everywhere and at all times. He DOES understand me in each and every situation in which I find yourself. Great to cling to this reality during periods of loneliness.
2) Community is everything – The Bible is written to groups, not individuals. Have you ever thought about that? Each and every book in the Bible was written assuming that it would be received and read by a community of people, not for the purpose of individual readers. This is contrary to pretty much everything else we read in the current day. Whether it was the nation of Israel, the church at Rome, the Hebrew people, or others, the intended destination was always a group of people in community.
We were designed for to be in community. We are to both serve within and be served by others in a community. I HATE letting others serve me, as it makes me uncomfortable. However, I am rigged to NEED to be served by others. I need people’s help, love, and care, though I often fight against it and even deny others the joy of serving me. This is a character flaw on my part and one which I am trying to grow in.
A local church is obviously the best course of action. Maybe a Bible study, or in my case, others of the same faith as I am in Asia. However, we all must be plugged into a community. If not, I am convinced that loneliness will eventually consume me (and you).
3) “All-Access” Relationships – This is similar to, but distinct from community. Many of us are aggressive and proactive in the work force, but lazy and passive in our personal lives. We give our lives for our occupation, but give little to nothing to real relationships.
There is no short cut; you must have people involved in your life in order to avoid isolation and loneliness. Not people at a distance. Not business partners. You must grant people real access into your life. You must invest in others and be humble enough to allow others to invest in you. We must allow individuals access to all parts of our life. . . the good, bad, attractive, and disturbing.
Reality is that very few adults have “all access” relationships in their lives, even among their spouses. We have people that work, worship, and do activities with us. We have people who are in our family or neighborhood. We have old classmates and drinking buddies. However, very few of us have people in their lives who are prodding, pocking, rebuking, and encouraging us towards true purpose and meaning in life. Without this, we will fall into loneliness and isolation.
I have been blessed with several men whom fit this bill. These men have been there for me, no matter where life takes me. These relationships have meant everything to me in keeping me from the despondency of isolation and bad choices. I’ve still experienced plenty of loneliness and poor choices. However, mentors and friends have always been there to pull me back up off of the ground when I have fallen.
I cannot over emphasize how much community and “all-access” relationships have meant to me over the years. I have been and am currently blessed with both an incredible community and several “all-access” relationships here in Asia, as I have written (The best and worst of my life in Asia and I am thankful for FRIENDSHIP) of often in this blog.
There are other things that I have found that help in battling loneliness, like exercise (sports and working out), professional development, education, and hobbies (mainly scuba diving). However, these pale by comparison to that of connecting with Christ, community, and strong, open relationships.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject of loneliness. How do you deal with it? What has been helpful. . . what has been harmful? I do read and respond to all comment left at the end of each blog, so if you have time, I would love to hear from you on this.
Thanks, as always, for reading! Hope you have a great week. . .