Are you among the millions worldwide feeling lonely right now? Know that you are not alone in this emotion. The unprecedented times that we are living in have left so many feeling lonely. I know this may seem like a small comfort right now, but I want to share some good news. Let’s explore the loneliness experience and ways to ease it, together.
First of all, what is loneliness? According to Wikipedia, “Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication with others …As such, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people.”1)“Epidemic.” 03 September 2020. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Ed. 29 August 2020 08:22 UTC, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Epidemic&oldid=975576774
Loneliness is one of the greatest risk factors in maintaining good health. Would you believe that it is more dangerous than obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes per day? It increases our risk of mortality 45%.2)Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, The Potential Public Health Relevance of Social Isolation and Loneliness: Prevalence, Epidemiology, and Risk Factors, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27, Issue 4, 2017, Pages 127–130, https://doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prx030
Loneliness has become a real problem for millions with little bearing on marital status, socioeconomic factors, or age. Previously, most people lived an agrarian lifestyle less likely to be associated with loneliness because is was commonly characterized by joint efforts to build, plant and harvest. Currently, our industrialized society has nearly entirely shifted to a city-based, urban consumer experience that has a “every-man-for-himself” vibe that easily can incubate loneliness.
To seek an answer to loneliness let’s consider the model of Christ outlined in the transcript of His love, the decalogue (Exodus 20:3-17), which bears the mark of social and God-connect. From the moment God placed humans on earth He gave them a guide to be in connection with each other, and with Him safely. The first four commandments refer to God and the following six gives us the blueprint of getting along with each other. God intended for humans to be in communities to combat loneliness, by communicating with each other and with Him. That is the intended construct of societies, and a great one at that!
So now I ask the question; how and why do we use courage to combat loneliness? Courage is described as bravery, confidence, grit, determination. It confronts hardship, fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and perhaps loneliness?
The Bible puts it this way, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” (Psalms 31:24). The word courage used in this text means to strengthen; to be strong; to cure; help; and repair.
Pointers on Courage to Combat Loneliness
1) Belonging to Christ
Have the courage to call upon Christ for help. Create a loving relationship with Him then talk to him as to a friend who is present beside you. “But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them” (2 Chronicles 15:4).
The goal is to remain undaunted and encouraged in the Lord so you can endure this present difficulty. Remember that you are His and nothing can shake that! “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Tip: Consider joining a Bible study group. This can help you connect with God and likely believers at the same time!
Have the courage to seek out a friend in love and ask for support. Paul did it in his plaintive pleading to Timothy; “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee” (2 Timothy 4:11). Tip: Video chat with friends or family when you can so as to maintain a sense of connectedness, even when you cannot physically be together.
Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and help someone else. It may save your life. “They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage” (Isaiah 41:6).
But first, we must ourselves be encouraged and feel the love of God. John the beloved of Christ wrote to a cherished friend; “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2). Living to share that love with others is undoubtedly the foundation of battling any difficulty, including loneliness. Tip: Find at least one person in your neighborhood to assist, briefly focusing on their needs instead of your own.
Following Christ calls for us to have courage to stand in the fullness of who we are without the dreaded emotion of loneliness. As ones cared for by God we can and should support each other through our shared experience of living through these difficult days. Stand in faith and courage as you combat loneliness today and know that we all children of God are praying and are with you. Soon, we are going home together, where we will never need to battle loneliness ever again!
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Cheryl is the author of The Song in the Silence — Surviving Madness and Abuse, and is an avid gardener and reader. She is an advocate of breaking taboos in relation to mental illnesses.
|“Epidemic.” 03 September 2020. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Ed. 29 August 2020 08:22 UTC, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Epidemic&oldid=975576774
|Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, The Potential Public Health Relevance of Social Isolation and Loneliness: Prevalence, Epidemiology, and Risk Factors, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27, Issue 4, 2017, Pages 127–130, https://doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prx030