Thursday, June 18, 2015
“ONE” DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A LONELY NUMBER-Heidi McLaughlin
Being a writer can be lonely. But writers are privileged to have the passion and purpose for creating picturesque and compelling words that we hope will leave the reader with: “Wow, that was a great article.” However, being alone is not always good.
Even though this generation is better connected through social media and technology, it is ironic that today we are a society that is adrift and lonely. In fact, many people after they spend time on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram come away saying: “Why is everyone living the life except for me?
In an article written on November 23, 2013 in the Globe and Mail, Elizabeth Renzetti writes: “In Vancouver, residents recently listed social isolation as their most pressing concern. More Canadians than ever live alone, and almost one quarter describe themselves as lonely.” She goes on to say: “A study last year from the University of California at San Francisco showed a clear link between loneliness and serious heart problems and early death in the elderly. Seniors in the study who identified themselves as lonely had a 59-per-cent greater chance of health problems, and a 45-per-cent greater chance of early death.”
Loneliness is such an ugly word. It reminds me of sitting in the cafeteria eating my boring lunch and hoping some popular or cool person would come and sit beside me. If I sat alone, I felt like a looser, unwanted and rejected by society. It is only human nature to wonder: What is wrong with me? Strangely enough, it is soldiers who really suffer and feel alone when they come back from
Extensive research has been done in the past decade to establish that humans feel safe and are joyful and fulfilled when they are in community or intimately connected to each other. In an article in June 2015 of VANITY FAIR, called The Bonds of Battle, the author Sebastian Junger gives us startling facts about soldiers returning from war with PTSD. Yes, the atrocities of war do cause anxiety, trauma and depression. However they are now discovering is that part of the PTSD trauma is perpetuated because the soldier is lo longer in the safety and reliance of community and camaraderie. The author says this: “Our society is alienating, technical, cold and mystifying. Our fundamental desire, as human beings, is to be close to others, and our society does not allow for that.”
Yes, some days I am alone, but I do not feel lonely. There is a huge difference. Sitting at my computer all day is a choice and for the most part I find it rewarding. It is up to you and me to make that determined effort to get up and go out to interact with other people. God designed us to be lovingly connected to each other. In the Bible there are thirty-six “one another” principles that guide us as to how we can be connected: Here are just a few to show us how we can help each other and find fulfillment:
1. Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32).
2. Serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
3. Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
4. Be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9).
5. Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
6. Greet one another (Romans 16:16).
7. Pray for one another (James 5:16).
8. Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).
Being lonely may seem crippling at times and just saying: “Get out there and connect with other people” may seem daunting to some people. The first step is to admit to the loneliness and be determined to change it. Take small steps to smile at other people. Make eye contact, greet someone and ask: “Are you having a good day?” Do something kind. Ask a question. Put an arm around someone. Drop off a cup of coffee. Pick a flower and pass it along. Sit on a bench and start talking to someone. Join a book club. Have someone over for a cup of soup.
“One” doesn’t have to be a lonely number if we are willing to step out of our comfort zone and reach out. Ask God to help you. I know He will.
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca
 VANITY FAIR, The Bonds of Battle, Sebastian Junger, June, 2015, p. 142
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