“It is not good for the man to be alone” Gen.2:18
“He gives families to the lonely” Ps 68:6, TLB
Belonging to a spiritually alive community is essential for personal renewal. We need one another!
Being lonely is something I’m familiar with. I came to America from Kenya when I was 22. I’d been married six weeks and experienced the acute loneliness of having no family or friends to connect with. Singleness can bring loneliness. So can marriage. So can moving to a place where no one knows you, and you know no one.
Have you been there? Are you there now?
Loneliness and isolation for whatever reason, contributes to an epidemic of depression.
- According to the World Health Organization, “Globally, the total number of people with depression was estimated to exceed 300 million in 2015. Nearly that number again suffers from a range of anxiety disorders.” http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254610/1/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf Loneliness is a major factor in depression.
- According to friends who minister to prisoners, solitary confinement, being alone with no one to talk to, is a punishment many inmates dread the most.
- According to researchers, perceived loneliness among the elderly contributes to cognitive decline and risk of dementia. http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/10-17-14-facts-about-senior-isolation/
- Others who struggle with loneliness can be: Home-bound mothers, care-givers, those with limited mobility, and anyone who longs for someone to share their thoughts, interests, and lives with.
God has created each of us with a hunger for relationships. Whether introvert or extrovert, we function best when our deep, inner needs for connection are met. Family and friends can meet our human need for company, support, and love. But:
- What if you have no family nearby, or aren’t comfortable around them?
- What if you have few, or even no, friends you can call and talk to, do things with, or count on to care about you? Then what?
God has the answer! Get Involved. Reach Out. Be Pro-active!
Whatever your circumstances or season of life, loneliness and isolation are not good for you, or me. We need to face facts and not deny our inner struggles by hiding behind closed curtains, staying in bed, or sleeping constantly. That will not help! If this describes you, or someone you care about, let me share with you some of the solutions I’ve pursued that are helping me with my seasons of loneliness.
- Find a Spiritually Alive Community.
Without being exposed to other Christians who live out their faith, it’s easy to dry up, grow cynical, or simply drift away, (Hebrews 2:1). We need to receive input that strengthens us. Seek out a Christian community where you’re fed, challenged, encouraged and have opportunities to be involved. It’s essential!
- Get Involved.
Join a group. I intentionally joined a women’s Bible study at my church—not to teach or lead—but simply to be with others. I’ve also joined a monthly Supper for Six group for the same reason—and volunteer an hour a week to talk with non-English speakers.
Form a group. Invite a few women to meet and share their walk with God. Study a book. Discuss. Connect. My twice monthly group is a highlight and joy. Think of what makes you thrive—hiking, cooking, quilting, reading, what? Then ask around if a group exists, and if not, invite one or two to join you.
- Reach Out.
Invite others home. Hospitality is an ancient and Biblical practice we’re told to practice. (Romans 12: 13) It doesn’t mean entertaining with your best dishes on display. Simply ask one, or a few, if they’d like to come over for coffee (grab cookies from the store!) and get to know them. Don’t let fear frighten you. Pray about it and let the Spirit lead you. If this is too big a leap, ask a potential friend to lunch after church or for a walk on Saturday morning. Be proactive or you’ll stay isolated!
I hope this is a help, and be sure to scroll down for a couple of books I’d recommend for dealing with loneliness and isolation. If I can be a resource or a listening ear, please let me know.
Let’s share: What have you found helpful in handling times of isolation and loneliness? I will keep your name private!
Photo credit: GraphicStock
Want to be more hospitable? This very helpful guide to caring and sharing with others will show you how. An Invitation to the Table—Embracing the Gift of Hospitality, by Michelle Lazurek
Here’s a practical guide to finding and maintaining good friendships: The Art of Authentic Friendship, by Judy Dippel and Debra Alexander