Alone

Written by Carl Greene

May 4, 2022

We all feel alone at times. Certain seasons are harder than others, while some seasons are prolonged experiences of loneliness. There is a feel to loneliness—an isolation that is felt so different than a solitude of our own choosing. Loneliness is an uninvited non-companion. And it hurts.[1]

On the one hand, none of us want to remain in the parched land of loneliness. Yet, we are prone to enter into the “loneliness loop.” Despite our desire to engage with others, loneliness has a way of chiseling away at our self-esteem, of magnifying the stress that we are under, of heightening our anxious thoughts, and then exponentially expanding our pessimism surrounding the value of social gatherings.[2]

The loneliness loop is something that research can coldly indicate, and it can also be the burning pain that each of us experiences at times in life. But we might not recognize the full impact of loneliness. Part of the difficulty with loneliness is that the loop puts us in a place where we no longer feel like following through with engaging with others, or we become extremely selective in how we engage with others. Even when we feel painfully lonely.[3]

Let’s be honest. We are still navigating through a season of isolation and loneliness that has left its mark on our lives. When we think about loneliness, it can be easy to focus on “that person” who has their struggles—while not honestly considering the impact of the loneliness loop on our own lives.

I would invite you to reflect on a few questions with me:

When is the last time I reached out to a friend to talk about more than the weather?

When is the last time I attended worship services with my church family for more than two weeks in a row?

Am I in a loneliness loop compared to a few years ago?

Father, may we know Your manifest presence with us on our journey, which all too often can feel lonely. Please reveal to us who You have placed on this journey with us, and may we be broken free from the loneliness loop. May our churches be a safe place of true community that draws us from loneliness and into Your presence, in community with brothers and sisters that You have called together, for Your glory.

[1] Photo courtesy of Sam Greene.

[2] Gorvett, Zachariah. 2020. “How Solitude and Isolation Can Change How You Think.” BBC News. October 23. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201022-how-solitude-and-isolation-can-change-how-you-think. Accessed May 3, 2022.

Hawkley, Louise C. and John T. Cacioppo. 2010. “Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 40 (2): 218–227. https://academic.oup.com/abm/article/40/2/218/4569527 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874845/ Accessed May 3, 2022.

[3] Ibid.

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