We all feel it from time to time. That emptiness in our gut that just won’t go away. That sense that we’re alone even when people are all around us. A sadness that overcomes us when someone, or something, is no longer in our lives.
In our American culture, loneliness is becoming epidemic. There are many symptoms and signs of it in our lives. It doesn’t discriminate between young or old, rich or poor, strong or weak. No, it comes to all of us from time-to-time. The ironic thing is that the elderly struggle with it more even though they have lived full lives, raised kids, and have a bushel full of grandkids.
The Mrs. and I grabbed a lunch today at Zoe’s after both working outside in the Texas heat all morning. While getting our water and choosing where to sit, I noticed a woman who was sitting by herself.
She was probably in her late 50s and had her cell phone sitting on the table with her. I immediately had a sense that she was feeling alone. As I walked by her, I tried to make eye contact hoping to say hello and give her a smile, but she just looked away as though she was ashamed and throughout our lunch, it bugged me.
One of the ‘gifts’ the Lord has put in my life is a sense of discernment which, in sales, is actually quite helpful. But, sometimes, I wish He hadn’t, because I tend to know things people would rather hide. That said, I’ll often be talking with someone, pass a person at the store, or have a sense about a friend regarding their life and some need they have.
It was that sense which hit me today when I looked at this woman. The sense I had was that she had faced a loss and was needing to get away from it to just be around people. The truth is, I may never know and don’t have the gift of talking to strangers like some people.
The Mrs. has a gift of giving and compassion. Her ability to share with the elderly, in particular, is one that is admirable. One of our neighbors who I’ll be blogging about one day, is 94 years old and survived WWII in France & Germany. She lives alone just a few houses away.
The Mrs. adopted her as her grandmother and calls her nearly every day along with taking her shopping, out for lunch, and helping whenever she can. The difference it makes in her life, and in the Mrs.’s life, is amazing to see.
The US population is now over 362 million people and, when I was born, was only 191 million (I felt a need to check that earlier today before knowing what I was going to blog about for some reason… go figure). With more people than ever before, we’re more lonely than ever.
The reason, in my mind, is nearly all because of technology. The woman at Zoe’s today had her phone. That was her lifeline. Facebook has replaced authentic time together (phone calls for that matter). The Internet has become our community which has good points and many bad.
I could write a book about the many times I’ve wrestled with loneliness in my life from rejection as a child, having parents divorced, a broken marriage, and having an independent nature from the beginning. Suffice to say, I know the feeling well as do many of you I’m sure.
So, how do we overcome it? What do we do when that gut wrenching feeling hits us? Some jump into a movie theatre, sit at Starbucks and surf the Web, or go shopping. Others sit alone and long for their family.
For me, it’s a mixture of several things, but the most important of which, would be my faith. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. I know from personal experience, that He has been there to fill that void many times. Not only that, I’ve had people randomly reach out to me who said, ‘I was on their mind and they just felt they needed to call’. That is God’s love and grace working through others.
Tonight, if you’re struggling with that loneliness that can overcome your soul, know that you are not alone. There is a ‘Friend who sticks closer than a brother’ and He loves you. There’s nowhere you can go where He won’t be, and He cares.
I care too. I may not be able to pick up the phone or come by, but know that, if you’re reading this blog right now and feeling lonely, that someone put it on my heart tonight to tell you that you are loved…