Monday, February 17, 2014

When You Feel Lonely: Getting Connected

Wayne has a solitary life. Every day he sits behind a computer, alone in a small cubicle at work. At night he sinks into the couch in front of the TV to unwind. He spends much of his free time online and has a sense of “virtual community” but not many friends with whom he interacts in person. Because of his lack of social skills, Wayne is often lonely.
Kate is a new mom who’s home all day with a newborn. She loves her baby girl, but she misses the companionship and conversation of her colleagues at the office.
And Paige, a marketing manager, just moved eight hundred miles across the country to start a new job in a city where she knows no one. She feels a bit lost and disconnected from her friends back home.
No matter what the reason, it hurts to feel isolated, disconnected, or unnoticed.
Sometimes we need the peace and quiet time alone brings; other times we need connection with others. But there’s a difference between loneliness and solitude.
Solitude can be replenishing after a hard week at work or in our prayer time with God. With the One who loves us most we can pour out our problems, ask for help, and thank him for all he has done for us. We can also learn to listen. In the stillness, in the quiet, we can hear what God is trying to communicate to us. Away from noise and distractions, we can absorb truth in new ways.
Loneliness is different. One definition says that “loneliness is a painful awareness that we lack close and meaningful contact with others. It involves a feeling of inner emptiness, isolation, and intense longing.” You may also feel sad, anxious, or inferior because you are unable to connect with people—or connect with a certain person.
We all need to connect with other people. We were created to need each other and to serve each other’s needs. Indeed, our longing for love, friendship, and close friends is real. Such things are vital to our emotional well-being.
Just as a bridge links one place to another, friendships connects one isolated person to another, and soon community is built. You can build connections in all areas of life. For example, build:
 spiritual community with people at church or a small group, prayer group, missions team, or one-on-one with someone like-minded

 social community through a bowling league, moms group, singles group, or coffee with friends

 intellectual community with people from work, a book group, or other group with shared interests

 physical community through a sports team, dance class, or workout partner for the gym

neighborhood or city community through a local playground, neighborhood block party, or mentoring a disadvantaged youth

virtual community, but make sure social media connections are not your only connections with other people.

With God, we have the most primary and meaningful connection possible. And that comes in prayer as we talk and listen. Ask God to make his presence real to you today. Ask him to help you to have hope that things can change in your life.  

You can also ask God to give you courage to reach out to another person or to bring caring relationships—with friends, family, or other new peopleinto your life. Finally, ask what you can do today to build a bridge to another person. 

Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). When you know God, you are never alone.

Excerpted from Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times (Revell/Baker Books) by Jackie M. Johnson.

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