Never Lonely Again

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Our call, as believers, is to connect with people of all ages to lessen the effects of loneliness and, so others can do the same.

See 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and purity.” These words should encourage young people not to hold back their truth and to spread the word of God because being a servant of God has no age requirement. It’s essential to recognize the beautiful diversity of age groups that make up our communities. The Bible’s teachings, exemplified by individuals from various generations to whom Jesus ministered, provide a timeless guide to uniting the young and old.

Recent data shows that the involvement of youth in communities brings fresh perspectives, social innovation, and creativity. We are often at the forefront of advocating for social change, justice, and equity. Just as Jesus welcomes children and their enthusiasm, let us embrace the youthful energy and passion in our communities. Studies also show that intergenerational relationships can lead to improved mental health and overall well-being for all age groups. In our communities, bridging generational gaps is not just a challenge, but also an opportunity for growth and unity. By drawing wisdom from Scripture and real-life experiences we can effectively meet the needs of both the young and old. We should appreciate the unique strengths each generation brings and foster connections that reflect Jesus’ love.

Public Health Threat

Loneliness in cities is a growing issue worldwide. As the human population increases globally and family dynamics change, many people still feel a deep sense of loneliness. In 2020, a study done by the United Nations (UN) showed that over 55% of the world’s population lived in cities, and this trend is expected to continue. Also, a survey done by Discovery ABA Therapy in 2023, found that over 60% of adults in the United States often feel lonely. In an article written by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), social isolation and loneliness were found to be linked to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and early onset of death. These findings were found more often in low-income adults, young adults, older adults, adults living alone, immigrants, and those with chronic illnesses. In 2022, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a policy that identifies loneliness as a public health issue that affects people of all ages.

“Loneliness was already an epidemic of its own, but the global COVID-19 pandemic caused loneliness to increase substantially over the past few years,” said Dr. Tiffani Bell Washington, MD, MPH. Dr. Bell Washington is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in private practice in North Carolina. Loneliness is not merely physical isolation; it’s also feeling disconnected and isolated from others. It’s essential to understand that being alone is not the same as feeling lonely.

Sometimes, being alone is perfectly fine and some people who spend a lot of time alone may not always feel lonely. Even Jesus Himself would retreat to quiet places to pray or spend time with His friends (Mark 1:35). Being alone is more of a physical state, like when you choose to be alone for a while.

But feeling lonely is emotional; it’s when you feel disconnected, isolated, or lacking a meaningful connection with someone else. Sometimes, being alone can be good, such as when you need time to think or pray in silence. Loneliness, on the other hand, can follow sad events like the loss of a loved one, divorce, severe illness, or unemployment. Anyone can experience loneliness at some point because we all need relationships with other people, and sometimes those relationships get damaged or fail. When we feel lonely after a painful experience, that’s when we truly need the support of someone we can trust.

Jeremy Nobel is the founder of the nonprofit Foundation for Art & Healing and Project Unlonely and a lecturer at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “If you’re feeling lonely, get curious about those feelings. Make connections, talk to others, develop new habits,” he added. “That’s a prescription that has no copay, it’s accessible to everyone, and it can be filled anywhere.”

Altered State 

The issue of loneliness is repeatedly addressed in the Bible. Did you know that the word “alone” appears 118 times in the Bible, but it rarely means feeling “lonely”?

In fact, the concept of feeling lonely as a mental state is relatively new. In the Bible, there is a crucial point sometimes overlooked: God never intended for humans to live alone. After God created the world in six days, it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But there was one thing God didn’t find good. The Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'” (Genesis 2:18).

If we pay attention to the Genesis 1 account, we notice that animals were created in groups like flocks of birds and schools of fish, but the human was created alone. It wasn’t God’s plan for us to live that way forever. God knew that loneliness was not good for us, so He decided to create a suitable companion. Thus, the Bible tells us that God created woman from man’s rib. Loneliness was not part of God’s original plan for humanity because we are social beings. We were made to commune with God and others. We were born with the innate ability to create social bonds with our Creator and fellow humans, but sin disrupted that plan, and now we may feel lonely and disconnected from God and others.

Never Alone, and  Never Lonely Again

Consider the case of Joseph: he was sold as a slave, separated from his family and friends, and taken to an unfamiliar place where he didn’t speak the language or understand the customs. In short, he was alone in the human sense. But the Bible says, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he prospered” (Genesis 39:2 NIV).

Likewise, Jesus, in the final days of His earthly life, was abandoned by His friends. Like Joseph, He was sold for a price. Almost everyone who had followed Him left. At one point, Jesus said, “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32 NIV).

Regarding loneliness, we need to understand that it affects us on a spiritual level. As mentioned earlier, God created us for a relationship with Him. But unfortunately, many people live estranged from God and feel spiritually lonely. What some people don’t realize is that neither money nor possessions can fill that void in their lives. Spiritual loneliness can only be filled through a personal connection with God and when you have a relationship with Him, you can be physically alone but not feel lonely. Like Joseph and Jesus, you can have a special relationship with God. You too, can live and walk every day in His presence.

Five Ways to Connect with Others Authentically

  1. Be People are attracted to your flaws and they make you seem more relatable, honest, and real.
  2. Ask good questions. Ask questions that stir people’s emotions. Instead of asking a generic question like “How are you?,” ask questions that require a thoughtful response like “What’s the best thing that happened to you this week?”
  1. Tell People are hard-wired to connect to stories, so telling stories can bring life to a conversation.
  2. Be fully engaged. Give your phone a break. Allow people to have your distraction-free attention by not checking your phone when you’re engaged in a conversation.
  3. Go above and beyond. Making an effort to remember small details that people tell you, or being positive and rooting for others’ success are ways you can go above and beyond in interactions with others.

This list provides just a few examples of ways to connect more intentionally with people you may encounter wherever you go during the week. Anyone you meet may be feeling lonely but genuine friendship can make a significant difference in their lives.

The invitation is to seek out real connections with others, lend a helping hand, and show them the love and joy you have found in Jesus. You don’t know the impact you could have on someone else’s life.

Let’s make any place we go less lonely by intentionally making connections with others– regardless of their age.

 

 

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