THE WEIGHT OF LONELINESS

In my high school years, I remember more times I was alone than with people. When I look back I don’t think there was anyone to blame, not even myself. I also don’t think that is the point. I don’t want to place that blame on myself or anyone. It happened and now I move on.

I want to get this straight. Loneliness will never be solved through blame. It is not their fault that you are lonely. It is not your fault that you are lonely. If we get so infatuated with blame, then we will fail to begin the process of restoration. May I also say that popularity is not the opposite of loneliness. The opposite of loneliness is community. You can be the most popular person at work, school, or even church, and miss out on community.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sifting through my room and I found a blue journal under my bed. I remembered having the journal my freshman year of high school. My freshman year wasn’t the best year of my life. I wouldn’t say I went through a depression, but I struggled socially. I would sit in class praying that I wouldn’t be called on because I was so scared of messing up. Fear of social banishment imprisoned me. There would be times I would banish myself because I thought I would save myself from imminent embarrassment. I would, therefore, watch movies and shows to take up time. It was something that helped take up time and I enjoyed it.

So, I opened the blue book. The first couple pages were about the show Doctor Who and Psych. I didn’t really think much about it. I closed it and sat it on my bed. I sat on my bed next to it and thought, “I wish my younger self would’ve left me with something to remind me of that time.” Now, in my life, I am the opposite. I have people who encourage and love me. I am in a completely different place and it is all because of Jesus.

Then, I picked the book back up and skimmed through the pages. Once I got to the back page of the book I saw some writing. It was my younger self answering my prayer. I read what it said and I cried.

It read, “I know why I like Doctor Who and Psych so much. It is because those shows fill the memories that I would have with friends.”

I got what I wanted and it took me back to the loneliest moment in my life. Then something beautiful happened. I was reminded of where I am today.

I want to personally let you know that if you are in a season of loneliness then your story is not defined by a chapter. This season of loneliness is a season, one fleeting.

Loneliness has been on the rise and is still climbing. Loneliness is something that humans were not meant to experience. Humanity has never been a secluded people but joins together to create community, tribes, or groups.

I love that God understands our needs and supplies an answer to our basic human needs. He accomplishes this through the church.

I once heard a counseling major say that non-christian counselors often recommend the church as a great place to help depression and addictions. The church helps create a community that brings heaven to earth. Well, what does that mean? It means that God dwells among the church, love rules in the church, and grace is extended to everyone who enters.

I heard a preacher two weekends ago say something that has stuck with me, he said: “Everyone is hurting, not everyone is healing.” Everyone is hurting, but not everybody has a safe community in which to heal. The church offers an opportunity to heal. Do not hear that the church IS the answer. Jesus is the one that brings healing, but the church is a glimpse of what communion with Jesus is like on earth. Jesus is the answer. The church is a body of believers who magnify Jesus.

If only I knew where I would be now, when I wrote in that blue book. If I would have looked up from my own pity, then I would’ve realized that God has given me an opportunity for community. What if you could offer community to someone before they get to their blue book? You have that opportunity every day. Use your words to kill loneliness in the lives of others. Make it impossible to be lonely. It is going to take intentionality and commitment. I’m not talking about casual acquaintances, but purposeful relationships. Take them out to eat, have coffee, or ask them how they are really doing. Let the Spirit lead you to someone this week. Someone that needs you to kill their loneliness.

Grace and peace.

Nick Settles Initials


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