It was Valentine's Day, and each time I had the radio on in the kitchen it seemed each host or hostess was focused on - not true lovers, - but those who hated the day because they were alone and so desperately lonely. One host after another featured the misery of the unloved and friendless.
Whoa! I knew it was a problem, but wasn't aware that it was so huge!
Last night and this morning I've been thinking. There have certainly been times when I've been idle and loneliness camped on me. These days I'm too busy doing things I love, that I feel are meaningful, so I seldom think of myself as lonely now.
Then I got to thinking how many of the characters in my novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, have a problem with loneliness?
Oh my goodness! This many? They don't all have it in the same form or degree, and they don't all cope with it the same way, but let me start a list;
Muriel, the girl Ruthe found crouching nude under a clothes rack was desperate for a boyfriend.
Ross, her brother, went to some lengths to find a girlfriend when Ruthe rejected him.
Ian O'Brien, their father was very lonely after his wife died.
Granny O'Brien bitterly sealed herself off in a bedroom overlooking her son's home and spied on them.
Lloyd surrounded himself with buddies and loud music to drown out loneliness.
His uncle, a traveling sales rep, committed suicide over his loneliness - as far as they could tell.
Gord appeared lonely because he said so little, (he'd been found in a car, no trace of his parents).
Phyllis had been lonely ever since she was raped as a young teen; she hid in books and education.
There are more, and of course,... Ruthe herself! She smothers her loneliness by talking continually with the Lord, whom she feels, or assumes is with her at all times, and because the heals her, she keeps reaching out to others who ought to find the same answer in Christ Jesus.
I'm sure if I go down the list of characters further I'll find more. Besides, I don't want to give away the juiciest details.
But I think it would be good for us to take a head-on look at least three different kinds of loneliness and how best to cope with each.
There is that longing for a mate to share secrets, commitments and eventually marriage intimacy with. It comes to all of us because of how our bodies and souls are created. But some have a much harder time with this because they feel so needy for love. Someone to accept, approve and appreciate them. For those who have no friend at all, this fantasy that a boyfriend or a girlfirend, or a sexual partner will solve all these problems in one fell swoop can get very strong.
There is also the intense loneliness of someone who has had a very close person to love and live with, even have a family together with, for many years, and then that spouse or family member dies. That cut-off feeling, like being personally dismembered can get very cruel with the pain of bereavement.
Another kind of loneliness grows out of feeling rejected by family and friends. Bitterness sets in, and an inner anger seethes and boils away, creating an odorous stew of hurts This type of aloneness eats away at the body, making it sickly and older in a hurry.
Do you need a friend? Are you wishing for just ONE loyal friend who would stick with you through thick and thin? Sometimes you feel quite friendless, right? Even though you might have had close friends in the past. In fact, those good times in the past may make you more aware of your aloneness now.
However, let's note that being alone and loneliness are not one and the same. It is possible to be totally alone and quite content and at peace with yourself, with God, and with that distant world out there. I know; I have experienced both. It is easy to forget though, when you're heart is screaming with the pain of loneliness.
So, if you were to cry out, "Oh, for one loyal friend! God, give ME a friend!" and if you were really tuned in and able to hear His answer, what might it be?
I can give you some of the basic answers He would give you, same as He gives to everyone who searches in His Word, the Bible. Same as the ones He's given me in response to my own cries for help.
1. Jesus, God's Son, would say, "Turn to Me. I died for you, but I'm alive again, and ever so eager to walk and talk with you all day long!"
2. God has already said in Proverbs that whoever wants friends must first be a friend. So He wants you to reach out to other lonely people, and be a friend to them first. Just like Ruthe, (my novel's heroine), once you know the Lord Jesus as your continually present Friend, you just want others to experience Him too! As you bless them in little ways, they begin to look up to you and befriend you. Soon, like Ruthe, you'll have more friends than you can keep up with!
Of course there are many little ways to win friends and to cause them to respect you and become loyal to you, but those are for another page. When it comes to overcoming loneliness, the above two steps are about all you need.
Well, one more thing. You could just humbly pray every day, "God, give ME a Friend!" Just don't be surprised if He turns out to be the very first friend He sends your way. Next He'll send you lonely people who need you to be their friend.
Don't turn away from them. Help them. That's going to lead to many others admiring, respecting and
yes - even loving you!