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Loneliness

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By Stanley Hasegawa

Loneliness is about alien-ness, distance, disconnectedness, helplessness, forsakenness all shot through with a painful sense of not being valued or loved.

Loneliness can happen to us when we are aliens, strangers.

“He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him.” (John 1:10)

If Jesus our Lord was treated as a stranger by the world, we will be too.

We may experience a season of loneliness because of the loss of a loved one. This is especially true of widows and orphans because they often become simultaneously alien (they need to relate to others differently from before), disconnected, helpless (financially insecure) and in a sense forsaken.

We may experience a season of loneliness because of betrayal or abandonment.

“But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56)

We may experience a season of loneliness because of illness or criminal punishment.

“Around three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” (Mark 15:34)

We may experience loneliness because abuse and/or neglect have profoundly altered how we think of ourselves and the people around us. As children, it is too threatening for us to acknowledge that our parents truly reject us and abuse/neglect us. If this is true, our normal, everyday life becomes impossible to live into. So our hearts come up with a twisted view of reality in which our experience of life, particularly our parents’ words and deeds, is made to be normal. We may fight it with our minds, but our hearts prevail in telling us that we are being abused, rejected, neglected because we are faulty in some way and thus responsible for our parents’ treatment of us. The following quote concerns neglect, but I think it is true of abuse as well:

“Since neglect is chronic, neglected children and youth are constantly dealing with their needs not being met. Over time they begin to feel unworthy of attention and energy; acknowledging parental rejection and lack of care is more threatening to them than believing that they are the cause of their parents’ unkind acts towards them” (Gauthier, Stoaalk, Messe & Aronoff, “Child Abuse and Neglect The International Journal,” July, 1996, p. 549).

When we feel unworthy of attention and energy from others; when we believe that we are the cause of unkind acts of others toward us, we naturally withdraw into loneliness. We think there is something wrong with us. We don’t want to be a bother to other people. We don’t deserve to take their valuable time and energy away from more important people or activities. We may share our things, our time, our help with others, but we are afraid to share ourselves with others; we are afraid when others share themselves with us:

“In mere solitude man remains essentially with himself, even if he is moved with extreme pity; in action and help he inclines towards the other, but the barriers of his own being are not thereby breached; he makes his assistance, not his self, accessible to the other; nor does he expect any real mutuality, in fact he probably shuns it; ‘he is concerned with the other,’ but he is not anxious for the other to be concerned with him.” (Martin Buber, Between Man and Man, 1955, translated by R.G. Smith. Boston: Beacon Press 1961, p. 170)

We are often imprisoned in loneliness because we feel needy, yet undeserving. We intensely desire love and goodness from others, but when it comes our way we deflect that love and goodness because we feel so wretchedly undeserving. Rather than building loving relationships, we seek validation from our relations with others. We try to get more people to think like us, to act like us, or simply to envy us, but the results do not satisfy. When we think that we are invalid in ourselves, we may even attempt to validate ourselves by judging others and sabotaging them.

Even if we are moved with extreme pity to give sacrificially to others, we can still remain essentially solitary. How do we get beyond ourselves? I think that Matthew 9:13 points the way:

“Go and learn what this saying means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mercy is relational; sacrifice is religious, positional. Mercy breaches barriers by drawing sinners to itself; sacrifice without mercy reinforces barriers by creating a division between those who occupy a place of ritual righteousness and those who occupy a place of ritual unrighteousness. In the end, sacrifice without mercy (self-righteous callousness) gains us nothing

“But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.” (Matthew 6:15)

What does it take to break through walls of loneliness? We must un-stranger ourselves to one another. That is, we must make our very selves mutually accessible to each other not out of principle, but because of mercy. Mercy from a pure heart breaks through walls of loneliness and brings light and life and peace. Mercy drives us to purify ourselves by obeying the truth, in order to love each other deeply from a pure heart.

“Because of our God’s tender mercy

the dawn will break upon us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78)

“You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” (1Peter 1:22)

Purification (detox) is not for prudes who seek purity for its own sake. What drug addict chooses to go through detox just for its own sake? Addicts go through detox so that afterwards, they may live life well. Purification is for the lion-hearted who purify themselves in order to show mercy and overcome evil with good. Unless we purify ourselves we will remain alienated from the life of God.

“They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. Because they are callous, they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:18-19)

With uncalloused, tender mercy, we seek out the lost and lonely and draw them into the body of Christ. It is within the body of Christ that we receive God-ordained wholeness. It is within the body of Christ that we receive God ordained-belonging. It is within the body of Christ that God’s potent, loyal love overcomes our loneliness. God’s love enables us to journey in communion with him and each other in the way of peace. God wants us to be one body not just individuals journeying together as co-travelers with a common destination; not just individuals working together as co-laborers with a common goal.

“So we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another.” (Romans 12:5)

I am richly blessed in my marriage. I have two grown children. I am semi-retired. I have been a computer programmer, systems analyst, househusband and homeschool teacher. I love to walk, talk and eat, and write short articles about devoting our lives to Jesus.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERSMAKE A WEBSITE

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