I was checking out a book at a local library. I was working on a series of some kind. (At the moment, I can't remember what). One of the books I was checking out had to do with friendship. The man behind the check out desk was a Hispanic man in his 40's. He saw the title of the book and then said aloud, "Now that's what I need-- Friends."
It would be hard to live without a friend. Someone to walk with you through life. Yet, there can be an "aloneness" that many people experience that may go beyond the simple need for a friend. On a regular basis, I talk with people who in some way express that they are feeling alone.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- The teenager who is disconnected emotionally from her parents. They live in the same house but not in the same emotional world.
- The man who is suffering through depression and feels like he is in a deep well and unable to get out. In fact, at times he lacks the energy to even try to get out.
- The college student, away from home, who gets tired of the "drama" among her friends. She feels alone at times frustrated by friends who she thought she was close to but now is not.
- The woman or man who at times feels "different" from others in his or her world.
- The new couple at church who can't seem to break through some of the barriers at their church. Meanwhile, they wonder how long it will take to make friends.
Now I'm not always sure that I always recognize when I feel aloneness. I probably felt this much stronger and more often in earlier years. Typically, this feeling would be related to my work (my ministry) in some way. Often it would center around some kind of frustration. (That would be true, by the way, for many, many ministers). For other people, it may stem from their marriage, friendships, work, etc. Some experience this when feeling when they are under great pressure of some kind.
Let me tell you what has been helpful to me:
- Nurturing significant relationships in my life. My wife/my children. (So often when we feel aloneness in one area of life, we begin to pull away and withdraw in other relationships.---Uhhhh, not good.
- Having friendships outside my work. Having friends outside my work helps keep realize that my life is much larger than the church I serve. These friendships will not all be the same but that is ok.
- Staying connected with God. I want to stay connected with him not because he helps me but because he is GOD. Nevertheless, when I am grounded in the one relationship that is most important, I don't lose my point of reference.
- Taking care of myself physically. I watch what I eat and try to work out four days a week. So often, when people feel along, it is easy to "let yourself go." You eat all the wrong things, no exercise, etc. I have found this makes an incredible difference.
What has been helpful to you?