Loneliness

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” – Genesis 2:18

In the last couple of months I’ve had conversation with three different men in pain. Not physical pain. The emotional pain of loneliness. Each one knows and is known by literally hundreds of people. And yet they feel isolated. They spoke of shallow relationships, a lack of honesty and vulnerability. They grieve the fact that the conversations they have with their friends rarely go beyond sports, weather and business. They avoid talking about their fears and their failures. They long for friends who listen and share far more deeply.

These men are not anomalies. Duke University researchers report that between 1985 and 2004 the number of people who said there was no one with whom they discussed important matters tripled to 25 percent. [1] No wonder loneliness is now labeled an epidemic in various circles of social science. And medical science is taking notice too. Research shows that chronic feelings of loneliness increase our risk of premature death by 26% [2] Simply put, we were created for community, for the kind of companionship that touches our deep need to know and be known without shame.

Scripture promises that we are never alone. God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6) That’s an awesome promise that I don’t ever want to take for granted, but the truth is most days we also need God-with-skin-on. We need one another.

So, how are your friendships? Are they soul-fulfilling? Honestly? If not, I want to challenge you to have an honest conversation with a friend or two and invite them into something deeper.

If you’re not in a small group, consider getting into one or start one. If you’re connected to Prince of Peace, click here for more. And if you are in a small group challenge yourselves to go deeper.

And the next time you walk into school, or the office, or church open your eyes to the people all around you who are alone. Then go and be God-with-skin-on to them. Feeling too introverted? Too shy? Too afraid? Too bad. Do it anyway. You’re spiritual, emotional and physical health (and theirs) depends on it.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

[1] http://www.newsweek.com/lonely-planet-isolation-increases-us-78647

[2] http://time.com/3747784/loneliness-mortality/

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