Focus: Learning from loneliness
Proverbs 1:5 (ESV) Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.
You may have never taken the time to think about some of the types and causes of loneliness. Maybe you’re only acquainted with ‘loneliness’ through knowing how it feels to be lonely. It might help to have a deeper look. You’ve no doubt heard the saying, ‘Life is what you make it’. Sometimes there is something you can do about loneliness, if you understand it better. By the same token, some things ‘are what they are’. If you can’t do anything to change the situation, learning more about it can help make it more tolerable. Maybe eventually you will even be able to embrace loneliness and benefit from it. If you haven’t been able to get past being alone—or feeling alone, whether it’s conditional or circumstantial—perhaps there’s something in ‘loneliness’ you have yet to learn.
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Part of the purpose of God is to work through all things to bring about ‘good’. Not everybody goes through life surrounded by people who love them. You might think you’re the only one who feels the way you do. Well, you’re not. Millions of people are in a state of emotional need. Loneliness is one of the largest contributors to depression and addiction.
On the other hand, not all those who are surrounded by people are happy about it, either. Some are smothered by relationships which are overwhelming to them. They savor silence—but never get a moment to themselves. Their best fantasy would be sitting in a solitary lounge chair on a vacant beach…with no other sound but the comforting consistency of the surf.
A person who is completely comfortable with solitude and has stopped needing people and relationships lives with another kind of loneliness. It’s not a melancholy kind of loneliness they experience. This person has intentionally closed others off for so long that it’s awkward when they have to be in a social circle. Any time they are trapped into confrontation—they can’t wait to escape and get alone. They actually feel more alone around people than they do when they’re by themselves. Either way, they’re lonely.
Sometimes loneliness can drive you to become obsessed with time management issues. Maybe there was a rejection that occurred back there somewhere. You had a relationship that you allowed to become all encompassing. You lost sight of who you were and actually absorbed the other person’s identity in an unhealthy sort of way. When the rejection came—you were more than lost. You were just plain absent. You didn’t have a life of your own anymore. When being alone was suddenly forced on you—you had no idea how to make that work. So, you started filling your calendar and figured if you got busy enough you wouldn’t miss not having a life. You thought that maybe in time you could reinvent yourself and get a life of your own. Only it got away from you. You didn’t get a life—you just got busy…and in the process you turned into someone who wasn’t able to—or was afraid to—shut down. Now, you feel secure when you are busy. When you’re not busy, you get anxious. When you’re busy, you don’t have time to think and remember how it felt to be rejected and what it was like to ‘lose’. But, even though you’re busy—you’re lonely.
In this next scenario—we’ll call the lonely person, ‘Giver’. We’ll call her so called friend, ‘Taker’. Giver doesn’t want to be lonely and often ‘tries too hard’. Giver is hungry for approval and will easily become the doormat in any relationship. Giver wants so much to be accepted—that she always seems to end up in service oriented ‘friendships’, where the stronger personality, ‘Taker’, will keep her running. The loneliness gets larger, when Giver realizes her ‘role’ in friendships—is performance. When Taker wants to do anything that is just for ‘fun’—she does it with someone else. This kind of rejection is hard for Giver to handle, and can result in her doing more and more to try to ‘earn’ friendship from Taker. There will always be people who will be glad to get the benefit of Giver’s services. What Giver desperately needs and longs for—is relationships that are not based on her performance—yet, she lacks the confidence to find a friendship that is otherwise. Giver has become so accustomed to serving—she’s lost her ability to say, ‘no’. Giver believes it’s honorable to serve, because serving is being selfless—and it is—however, Giver can’t help wishing someone would appreciate her for who she is—with no strings attached. But, for now–she’s lonely.
Some people are lonely because they lost a loved one through no choice of their own. Their ‘soul mate’ relationship was mutually nurturing and strong. Now, they are faced with having to build another life—when what they’d like most—is to have their old life back. That is the hardest kind of loneliness.
Let’s face it—the dynamics of loneliness are complicated—no matter what kind of loneliness a person may live with. Finding balance and a meaningful purpose is truly helpful. Discovering Jesus as the lover of your soul is the best lesson you can learn. With His hand in yours—you can keep moving forward.
Declaration: I will find new strength by seeking God for balance and purpose. I will put my trust in Jesus—as my true and everlasting friend.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.