Loneliness: Reconstruction of Perception
The term loneliness as defined by the Oxford Dictionary (2017) is “1) sadness because one has no friends or company, the fact of being without companions; solitariness; or 2) (of a place) the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation.” Harris (2015) posits that “between 20 and 80 percent of adolescents report feeling lonely often compared to 40 to 50 percent of the elderly population.” According to the American Osteopathic Association, “nearly 72 percent of 2,000 American participants experienced loneliness” (Marcus, 2016).
Loneliness is a phenomenon that many people criticize as those individuals, who experience this emotional state, are often perceived as weak and/or inadequate. However, such perceptions differ from the Biblical perspective concerning the matter. In Genesis 2:18, God stated, “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Although God was referring to Adam’s eventual counterpart, Eve, it is evident that He understood human emotion.
We must consider that as God desires us to love Him, and that He made us in His image, it’s only logical that we would aspire for people to love us short of worship; as we are not God. Ideally, the love that we should express to each other should encompass the upbuilding and preservation of our well-being. Unfortunately, societal norms encourage independence, idolatry, ignorance, selfishness, hate, and greed, which alienate and oppress people. Without healthy emotional support, the alienated and oppressed become increasingly disconnected from surrounding social networks. They develop beliefs of being alone in a superficial and uncaring world. Meanwhile, the world revolving around them fails to take note of their sentiments.
Loneliness is not always observable. As many people, who experience chronic loneliness, appear overtly normal. Lonely people often behave in an acceptably sane manner; they are intelligent, skilled, and talented. But they hide their inner feelings from the outside world, fearing judgment from those, who don’t understand them. Within the privacy of their homes, they brood. Perhaps it may be easier for a female to share her emotions, whereas a male is typically reluctant because of societal expectations. The weight of loneliness is nonetheless, burdensome.
Loneliness is a precursor to self-destructive behavior (i.e. drug use, alcoholism, promiscuity, etc.). Moreover, we’re living in a time where suicide and despair are increasingly prevalent. Whether we know someone or are dealing with loneliness ourselves, help is just a request away. The Word of God and prayer possess the capacity to replenish what an individual believes he or she is deficient.
Psalm 25:16-17 – "16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.”
Psalm 27:10 – “When my father and mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me."
Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
There is also joy and comfort to be found in living among others with positive intentions. We find evidence of these occurrences in life-changing situations (i.e. death, birthdays, holidays, etc.) where people receive encouragement and support. In fact, the Bible advises Christians to bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Colossians 3:12-14) and to restore one another (Galatians 6:1; James 5:16). Our lives aren’t meant to be lived alone, and a contrary belief evidences a conceited self-assurance. Life has a way of making even the strong-willed dependent upon someone or something. And it is the circumstances of life that catapult people into loneliness. Whether you're a man or woman, life will impact you.
Be gracious, encouraging, and loving.
Harris, R. (2015). The Loneliness Epidemic: We’re More Connected Than Ever – But Are We Feeling More Alone? Retrieved October 3, 2017 from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/the-loneliness-epidemic-more-connected-than-ever-but-feeling-more-alone-10143206.html.
Marcus, M. B. (2016). Feeling Lonely? So Are A Lot of Other People, Survey Finds. Retrieved October 3, 2017 from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/many-americans-are-lonely-survey-finds/.
*Scriptures referenced in this blog were extracted from the Thomas Nelson New King James Bible.