When God created Adam and placed him in paradise, He is recorded as saying that it was not a good thing for man to be alone. Up until that 6th day everything He had created, He called Good. Loneliness was the very first thing God labeled as Not so good. This was not an oversight on God’s part, or heaven forbid a divine epiphany-we’re talking about God here. It was always the plant to create a mate for Adam to share life with, and for the most part it has remained thus through the ages. Maybe God knew that Adam needed someone to press his fig leaves or dress the wild catch of the day for dinner. Or perhaps, He simply knew that human connection was an integral part of the grand design.
We live in a society of lonely people. They are all around us in plain sight yet hidden from us. They may hide behind smiles and activity, bar-hopping, social media and yes, even church involvement. But truth be known at the end of the day these go home to a cold and lonely dwelling where the only voices are heard over their airwaves of the television. Because of the stigma of admitting loneliness, especially among men, they choose to remain silent and battle solitude while those closest to them are completely unaware. Loneliness is a major factor in depression. Feelings of irrelevance, isolation, despair, worthlessness-all symptoms and results of one who suddenly finds themselves alone.
Many in bad relationships long for the day they could have total freedom without answering to anyone-the ultimate bachelor. But even those who relish the thought and through unexpected circumstances get their wish, find that the novelty wears off when they go to bed night after night by themselves and wake to mornings the same way. It can be a vicious cycle and get old very quickly.
I find it ironic that in an age of social media where people are connecting with friends they haven’t seen in years, social media plays such a large role in loneliness. Even with FaceTime and Skype, personal interaction is becoming a lost art. Business calls are replaced with emails. Sales meetings have been replaced with much cheaper video conferences. Even dating clubs for singles have fallen to sites like Match, Christian Mingle or OurTime. Land lines are now obsolete-greeting cards requiring thought and postage are slowly being phased out by e-cards. I even have to check my own groceries at most stores where clerks are now computer kiosks. And dare I even suggest that church attendance is now a choice of getting up and going to a gathering place or watching a live stream from the convenience of your own living room. We are being systematically screwed by a technical age that is turning us all into mindless loners with no social skills or personal interaction. I may have introverted tendencies but being alone is not my preferred way to live life.
Right about here is where I would normally list scriptures that give us hope and encouragement for the topic of the post, and with this topic there is certainly much the Bible has to offer. But sometimes a Bible verse is not the best remedy. Yes, I know, Amy Grant caught hell for saying that back in the day, but she was right. Even the Word asks us what good it does to tell a person to be well without meeting their need. I must have ten different versions of Bibles at my disposal but the human element is not present.
When I was younger the news of a house fire had little impact on me. However in 1994 I learned first hand the meaning of empathy when I lost everything in a fire. Now when I see news of a fire my heart goes out because I’ve been there. If you’ve ever been alone you know how others feel, the despondency and everything associated with isolation. It is through empathy that we connect and offer healing to those who travel where our feet have been previously. You don’t have to look far to find lonely people-bars, nursing homes, orphanages, even Facebook. A visit, a beer, a baseball game, a phone call goes a long way in helping others who would otherwise have little or no connection to a real person. Yes, in Christ we have “a friend who sticks closer to us than a brother“, but flesh and bones are preferred. Ask God to allow you to see others as He does so that you can be aware of those you can help.