Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Killing Loneliness

If there's one subject that SSA-strugglers seem to write about a great deal, it's loneliness. I suppose when the potential for a spouse and children seems dim, people tend to put a great deal more worry into whether or not they will end up alone. This certainly isn't exclusive to SSA-strugglers. I have several straight friends (my age, even!) who, for one reason or another, worry about ending up alone and unloved. Worrying about loneliness is simply a human problem, and sometimes very bad decisions come out of a desire to simply not be alone (if you've ever known anyone who can't go two weeks without being in a relationship, you know what I mean.)

I've often heard sound Christian advice given to those who deal with loneliness (of all orientations and walks of life.) It usually goes along the lines of, "Let Christ be your companion in lonely times. Let Him fulfill your desires for intimacy." Now, like I said, that's very good advice. When one feels lonely, instead of turning to despair and cynicism, they should turn to the Bible and meditations on Christ instead. That sounds a lot simpler than it really is (trust me, I know!), but if the advice is truly taken to heart, it works. However, there are other ways to let Christ be your companion, and they don't all involve sitting at home with your Bible in hand.

Over Spring Break, I spent most of my time at home. None of my old friends from high school were on break at the time (and I seriously fault the UNC system for not synchronizing the Spring Breaks of its many branches.) My parents were in and out, and remember that I live in a very isolated neck of the woods, about a mile and a half from the main road on an old farm. Needless to say, I was very lonely and bored.

I realized that my grandmother, who has been widowed now for more than a year (from her husband of 60+ years), might want some company. I visited her, and I have to say I really enjoyed the experience. She's a very tough old woman, but she's sad and lonely for the most part nowadays. Yes, she gets regular phone calls and visits from my mother, father, aunts, and uncle, but apart from that she spends her time alone in her old house, attending to daily chores that she's performed for years and years. I can relate to that type of loneliness in some ways, because I've imagined (in moments of fear and doubt) that it could happen to me. However, can I say I've actually experienced it? No. Not at all.

So I visited with my grandmother and tried my best to ease some of her loneliness. At the same time, I found that my own fears and doubts about ending up old and alone were calmed. The thing is loneliness is a fact of life, at least for those who grow old. You have to deal with it, and I think one of the best ways to deal with it is to find others who are also lonely. It's an elementary solution, if you think about it. I'm sure any Christian knows that helping others often helps the helper as much as it helps those that were helped (enjoy that sentence, why don't you?)

But you can't just sit around and wait for people to find you and fill your life. Sure, my grandmother doesn't get out much, but at the same time she's elderly and many of the people that she would visit have passed on. If I'm lonely, however, there's nothing stopping me from calling a friend or family member. There's nothing stopping me from being there for someone else when they need me. Whatever you do, it will be done back to you. So, if you don't want to end up alone and unloved, then you had best get to easing the loneliness of others and loving others.

To be fair, these ideas aren't all mine. Hitch was noticing my slightly reclusive nature and, frankly, was getting a little annoyed by my constant worries about the future. There's only one future, though, and that's the one I make. I can't whine about being lonely when I'm sitting home alone, unwilling to go out and visit people. He was right there, and I hope to take his advice to heart and spread it around. Take care, everyone!

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