I've been thinking about loneliness lately.
The worst thing about loneliness isn't the aloneness. It's the idea that there is no one in this world that thinks enough of you to take the time to connect with you.
There are different reasons for loneliness. The first reason is isolation caused by a person's circumstances. A person may be lonely because they are physically, mentally or emotionally unable to reach out. Seniors, the disabled, the mentally ill and even young stay-at-home mothers of multiple children fall into this category.
There are lonely people who, because of circumstances, have become bitter depressives who repel people.
Then there are those who are physically isolated because they live in remote areas.
But last I think that there is a newer breed of lonely people. This last breed is a product of our culture. They are those who choose to be alone. They are the busy people of this world. Most of us these days have fallen into this category at one time or another. Our modern society makes it easy to be alone. One no longer needs to leave the comfort of their home to; pay bills, check out, request or renew books from a library, gain access to newspaper and magazine articles, shop, go to school or even socialize.
When my kids were small I fell into the first category. There were times, during flu season, where I hardly left the house for months at a time. I don't know how I would've made it through if it weren't for those women whose children were no longer wrapped around their ankles who came to my rescue. I had several friends who would visit, sit, have a cup of tea. There was one woman who used to come and chat while we folded laundry. There was always a mountain of laundry..
I no longer fall into this category and yet there are times when I feel lonely. Over the past year or so I've backed out of commitments at church because I've been busy. Recently I woke up to discover that I was lonely. I began to think about how I'd come to this place, to ponder the Bible verse in Genesis where God states "it is not good for man to be alone." In the garden man had a relationship with God with no barriers; yet God saw the need for a companion for Adam. God created Eve out of Adam's rib. He could have scooped up a handful of clay, formed it in the shape of a woman and breathed life into it but he didn't. I believe that God wanted there to be a deep connection between Adam and his companion. Since that time every human being has started life connected physically to another human being. We are not meant to be alone, we are meant to have deep connections with others.
This Sunday our pastor preached from 1st Corinthians 12:12-26, about community. (The passage where Paul compares the Church to the human body.) The sermon was one of the best that I've ever heard on this passage. It spoke to me personally because God had been talking to me about this already. Fred's final points were on how to experience community. He said first of all; one needs "to show up"; secondly participate in the community; one should share, tell their story; stay and spend time with others; and lastly don't give up. Community is not necessarily an easy thing to deal with sometimes people get on our nerves or offend us. It is important for me to remember that sometimes I get on people nerves or offend. Lots of grace is required in order to have community.
This week I've decided to do something about my lonely state. I've decided to get out, show up, participate, spend some time getting to know others.