Normally we tackle the negativity and ridiculousness of the muck in Washington D.C. in American politics. We do so at the expense of some of the most costic, bombastic, and self-centered Americans in politics who have no real concept of what Nationalism and the Rule of Law really are. The U.S. Constitution? They “say” they love it, but their actions say differently. But today we are taking a different path. We’re not even going to talk about politics. We’re today having a conversation about “real” life.
There’s pretty much no worse feeling than to find oneself totally alone. Whether you’re a soldier who is part of a platoon on a combat mission who finds himself separated from his unit, or a single mother who daily faces the choices of not eating herself just to be able to feed her babies, being alone is usually very frightening.
Those instances in which we find ourselves alone often result in the feeling of loneliness. Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication with others. Loneliness often is heightened by fears of solitude extending into the future.
Research has shown that loneliness is common throughout society, including for people in marriages, relationships, families, veterans, and those with successful careers. It has been a long explored theme in the literature of human beings since classical antiquity. Loneliness has also been described as social pain—a psychological function meant to motivate an individual to seek social connections. Let’s face it: when a person is alone — especially for quite a while and with few or no connections with others — the results are seldom positive and often morph into unpleasant happenings.
Here’s a thought: are those who seem to have everything going their way — a great family, good job, wide circle of wonderful friends — ever susceptible to loneliness?
Gustavo is the pastor of a large and thriving church in Central America. He is an amazing pastor, his congregation is large and growing rapidly every day, and he is a prophet and evangelist in great demand throughout the world — but especially in the United States. As great a minister and pastor as he is, he is a greater husband and father. Yet he too battles loneliness.
I was with him yesterday in the midst of a meeting with hundreds of Americans who were hanging on his every word. He speaks with knowledge of how tough life can and often is, and also how to beat life’s foes while simply being human and fighting for survival each and every day.
Yet late in his message, he stated this: “Sometimes when I speak to thousands of people and see dramatic changes and results in their lives from what I am able to share with them, I find myself — even though they hang on every word and shout and applaud and want to know more and more — later alone in my hotel room wishing I could just have a hug.”
We see and here story after story about famous folks who end up dying alone, victims of self-inflicted drug overdoses or other suicides. But we’re not speaking today about that type of loneliness. We’re talking about situations in which people get stuck, and those dire circumstances come directly from choices in which they have no or very little responsibility.
I wrote a column in my college newspaper: the Tech Talk. I think the best one I wrote in my years there was titled “Alone: All, All, Alone.” Why was it “good?” Not because of the writer, believe me! It was so right-on and representative of those situations of being alone that are not the direct results of OUR actions. Maybe they’re the result of some action or inaction of another. In my case, it came as the result of the nasty divorce of my parents and the quick and horrible results for me from that. I’ll give you the “10,000-foot perspective” of it, just to build the basis this specific perspective of loneliness.
I was 16 at the time. We lived in a small town in south Louisiana. My Dad was the pastor of a small church that couldn’t pay him a fulltime salary. So he worked in construction about 45 miles away, commuting daily. Times were tough financially, but — from a kid’s perspective — things were good…until December 22, 1969. Dad left that day.
I had listened over the past months to Mom and Dad argue. I never saw any verbal or physical abuse. I never thought my Dad was involved with another. I thought those arguments came from the fact that Dad was holding down two jobs, driving to one at 5 AM Monday through Friday, getting home at 9 PM daily, and pastoring a church of 50 people at the same time. Certainly, those factors weighed heavily. But for whatever reason or reasons, Mom and I spent Christmas Day in 1969 alone.
Things went downhill from there. Mom had a nervous breakdown; I couldn’t take the stress and left home and moved to a friend’s garage apartment in the town in which I grew up, 45-miles away. I finished my junior year in high school while working parttime at a radio station.
Things changed dramatically that Spring. (That’s another story worthy of not just a TNN column, but a book! We’ll share that in the future) But the next Fall found me as a freshman at Louisiana Tech University, the home of the “Tech Talk.”
In the 20-months between Christmas 1969 and late August 1971, I discovered what REAL, “non-self-inflicted” loneliness was all about. I will say this: God miraculously intervened in my life in the interim. My story would well have ended tragically if He hadn’t. In fact, circumstances were amazing for me, and those circumstances kept me alive and moving forward.
But what those wonderful occurrences could NOT do was change the fact that I had lost my family as a result of decisions made by two others in which I had no input, that changed the course of my lifetime. That’s not even mentioning that the relationships I had with my mother and father were permanently altered. I found myself on a university campus in Ruston, Louisiana having no idea what life ahead could possibly be. I was alone.
For most of that almost 2 years, I tried my best to just make it. I was just a kid. I had no idea what life objectives even looked like. Moms and Dads — especially when kids are in high school — usually give kids some life templates from which to choose about this time. I simply struggled to put the pieces of life together that I found each day popping up AS they popped up. Thankfully God put people in my life that were there for me! Things would probably have gone unimaginably wrong without them. Yet that emptiness and hollowness that resulted from my loneliness showed up every day. And I had to deal with it every day.
I guess my youth, already-present entrepreneurial spirit, and the love of an unofficially adopted family factored heavily in keeping me on the road to successful real life, thank God! And things turned out really good. I’ve had 65 pretty good years, have a great immediate family and a wonderful extended family. But in all that, I’ve never been able to totally eliminate thoughts of that dark, hollow, achy, and gut-wrenching loneliness — especially as it hit home for the first time about 8 AM, December 22, 1969.
So what’s it all about?
People are simply not made to be alone — PERIOD. Human beings are social beings. And even though — social experimentation being what it is — people attempt the manufacturing of social scenarios in which Superman doesn’t need Superwoman or Super Kids or Super Friends, or anyone at all; that “all I need is ME” to live a happy, fulfilled, and contented life, that doesn’t work. PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE!
No, I am not a Shrink: I have NO psychological or psychiatric expertise or training. And I am NOT trying to give any psychological advice to anyone, or at least advice to do anything specific in or because of life circumstances. I am simply pointing out that sometimes, life is not fair. Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances not of our own making that are horrendus, and that come with loneliness as a great part. What I am saying is that when this loneliness pops-up in our lives and our heads, we MUST find ways to get through them. And we can.
This would normally be the spot where a journalist would make some monumental and impactful suggestions, like “Here are 5 sure ways to guarantee you’ll never be loney,” or “Do you want to know how to always be fulfilled and happy?” I’m not going to do that. I don’t think there’s a magic prescription or pill that takes care of that. There certainly are people who maintain there are such panaceas for loneliness.
But what I WILL say and what I DO know is this: being alone is NOT fun — when it comes from bad circumstances that one inherits from decisions not their own or were not based on their own selfish motives. And loneliness is NOT the kiss of death.
But finding one self alone and its resulting loneliness and staying there almost always results in despair. And despair often initiates drastic measures.
Isn’t it ironic though that when someone as a result of loneliness and resulting despair commits suicide or worse, kills someone else, how many people who really care show-up in the aftermath? It happens a lot.
What if those who enter the picture only at a wake or funeral who weep for the deceased and cry “If only I had known” had been an initiator of helping that person when alive to work-through their loneliness?
A suggestion: Be open to all those in your life. Keep the lines of communication clear. Make certain ALL of those you care for understand that they can speak to you about anything with the certainty there will be no chastisement or disdain on your part for their simply sharing their feelings of loneliness and its results with you.
Most of the time doing so will be costly. Sometimes doing so will even hurt — and hurt deeply. But there’s a truth that makes that process pretty clear. It’s best revealed in the title of a song my brother — my “adopted” brother from the family that took me into their family in 1970 — wrote years ago: “Anything word having is worth hurting for.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Why not try it: it probably will work. And if your trying doesn’t save a life, it will probably make someone’s life a whole lot better.