Normally the first thought is, if you are lonely, it is your fault. There is some truth in that but there is more to it. It is like asking am I responsible if my family is dysfunctional? Well, yes and no. See what I mean?
I am under no illusion loneliness can be solved with a blog post. I hope to simply have a conversation and give you some things to think about.
We should probably start with defining loneliness. You know it when you see it, or more accurately you know it when you feel it. The dictionary says “a sadness due to no friends or company”. Blah
How about his from Jeannie Allen, “ It’s the wondering if you are truly known, seen, accepted, even cherished, like when: You don’t know whom to call to pick you up at the airport. You have something to celebrate or grieve and no one to celebrate or grieve with. You have an idea you want to brainstorm and can’t think of anyone who would care enough to dream with you. You’re dealing with a difficult situation at work but can’t think of anyone safe you can talk it through with.”
It is hard to look at the weekend and not have any plans, knowing unless you initiate or go it alone you won’t be doing anything.
Worse, you need to talk but don’t know whom to call. Worst of all, you haven’t had anyone genuinely listen to you in so long that you can’t remember the last time you said anything meaningful.
Loneliness is real, real ugly. Many of us default to family if the friend piece is missing but often that falls short as well.
People have gathered (for a variety of reasons) with other people as long as there have been people.
Yes, we can survive out on our own…have you seen the show Alone? People do this survival thing by themselves in harsh conditions. Here’s the thing even the winner comes back to their people. You and I both need other people to do life as it is intended.
Gathering is important. Even with the more introverted personalities.
Gathering together matters, even if the most recent gathering didn’t seem to generate many good feelings. When you gather for an imoprtant resason, gathering becomes even more powerful.
For followers of Jesus, gathering is critical.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Gathering builds hope and keeps us moving in the right direction.
Not gathering was trending in first-century Christianity, so much so that it was labeled a habit—a bad habit. Just because something is a trend does not make it right. The author of Hebrews urges us toward each other when times get harder.
The word forsake is emotive and compelling. It captures a sense of loss and abandonment. Not gathering is a loss for us and others. We are being told that we are literally abandoning a part of our Christian responsibility when we turn our backs on gathering with each other.
The purpose in this verse is not for our own growth or own benefit. It is for others. To encourage is to deposit strength and faith in other people. And that is one of the beautiful mysteries of God. When we gather, we encourage each other and we all benefit.
I don’t know if being lonely is your fault, my fault or someone else’s fault. I do there are a few things you can do to tame the sadness and feeling of not belonging. Of not having people.
Assume the Best – Assuming the worst about people is one of the easiest ways to self-sabotage future relationships. If you don’t share my politics, values or opinions I am safe to assume you are a bad person and I should have nothing to do with you. What? That’s crazy.
What if you assumed other people were doing their best. That they had both good traits and bad traits (just like you do) and assumed you would enjoy knowing them?
Keep Short Accounts – Do you know any chronic complainers? I do. Can I complain about the complainers? Wow when it is always the dumb guy driving, the rude store clerk, the poor customer service, the disreputable company….we get it! Everyone is wrong, you are always right.
It is hard to be around. Worse it points at something deeper. The inability to forgive. I know forgiveness is hard. I have been wounded deeply and years later it is still sore. But I can still choose forgiveness. Keeping short accounts means letting go. It gives grace to people and it is magnetic. It attracts people. Holding grudges pushes people away.
Be Quick to Apologize – Easy to say hard to do. You know why, apologizing requires humility. Something that unfortunately is in short supply. It is not that we have all these ego maniacs pumped up on themselves walking around. What we have is people who are stuck in a loop considering only their preferences, needs and situations.
Humility says think less about yourself. Then you can see why you may need to apologize and much like grace, humility and confession is a people magnet.
Aim to Be a Peacemaker – It sounds good, it is in the Bible, Jesus mentions it as one of the keys to a happy life. For some reason it is undervalued and ignored. I have to admit my first thought about being a peacemaker is negotiating the end to a way. Pretty sure this is something else.
Being a peacemaker at a minimum is refusing to ramp up conflict and division. The real power of peacemaking comes when you communicate through your words and actions that other people are more important than being right and winning the fight. It is startling when you see it, rare but needed. It literally builds relationships.
Choose to prioritize each other again and again Sometimes that means we get hurt, and sometimes it means we are simply inconvenienced. Yet it will build a new life.
Join me in making a decision, a commitment if you will, when it comes to Mt Ridge church and loneliness.
WE DON’T ALLOW IT.
We will not be and not allow loneliness. We will be a family. A group who comes together to take care of each other as we follow Jesus.
I don’t know whose fault loneliness is, I do know it doesn’t have to be.
Would you like to see more content like this? Visit our BLOG
We love connecting with people. Visit us at mountainridge.org
Finally, check our our YouTube channel for great videos designed to help you move forward