“Living with air pollution increases your odds of dying early by 5 percent. Living with obesity, 20 percent. Excessive drinking, 30 percent. And living with loneliness? It increases your odds of dying early by 45 percent.” (Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness)
About 42.6 million American adults over age 45 are believed to suffer from chronic loneliness, according to AARP.
“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival… Yet an increasing portion of the U.S. population now experiences isolation regularly.” (Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University)
Surprised? I know that everyone experiences loneliness at some point in their life, but I had no idea it was so prevalent and so dangerous to our health!
The worst is when it creeps up on us, blindsiding us with profound isolation where we were expecting to find connection and community. Who knew that when you graduated from high school and went on to college that people would already be in cliques that offered you no on-ramp? Who would have imagined when you married the person of your dreams that you would find yourself so lonely, or that when you left the workplace to have children you would feel so isolated, so alone? Or when the diagnosis came, and no one seems to have the time to sit with you and enter with you into your trial. This is the reality of our time, so much superficial connection via social media, and so little connection that feeds our souls. The good news is that just because you feel lonely today, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
In his message this past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder defined loneliness as the sadness we feel when we lack the connections or friendships we want. That really is the heart of the matter: we don’t have or cultivate the meaningful connections that allow us to know and to be known by others.
At the beginning of this series, Ben said that when we find ourselves in the dead of winter, think AAA: Acknowledge here, Awareness of there, and Action forward. As we walk through these three steps, which we will do this week in the LivingItOut, we just may be able to move from a feeling of loneliness into meaningful relationships.
When I think about how lonely or isolated I feel at times, it is helpful to remember that God is with me.
Psalm 139: 7-12
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
This psalm is a great reminder to me of God’s sure presence and care in my life, no matter how I might feel in this moment. Jesus has shown me over and over how much he cares for me.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
Are you experiencing loneliness in your life right now? Have you experienced it at some point in the past?
Are you able to identify any patterns of behavior that precipitated that feeling?
Spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal any negative patterns of behavior that result in a feeling of loneliness and isolation. Journal your thoughts. Then, make the effort to change one of those patterns today.
Jesus, my hope, my faith, my trust, and my joy are in you. I trust you in my loneliness and isolation, and I trust your promise to never leave or forsake me. Remind me of who I am as your child, and give me the confidence I need to take steps toward meaningful connection today. Thank you. Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.
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