Monday, November 07, 2011

We Are Not Alone

Last week the health specialist on CBC radio's Metro Morning spoke about the effects of loneliness. He pointed out the obvious connection to depression and other mental health issues but went on to say that new research makes the connection to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes -- loneliness makes us sick. The studies also show that in our supposedly connected world people report having fewer confidantes than even a decade ago. Hey, anyone on Facebook knows that "friend" has become a rather demeaned term and that social media can leave us lonely in a crowd. I wondered if the conversation would speak about ways of addressing loneliness such as, say, being part of a loving, caring family of faith. Nope.

Not everyone who comes to church feels that they belong to be sure, but I am regularly touched by the circle of support and care provided by people of all ages. A group of our tweens talked on Sunday about the sense of safety they feel together at church. We see it regularly with our seniors. We are far from perfect but we are in the loneliness busting business.

Of course there can be comfort in sensing that Christ is our companion in life and that God is with us even in the shadows. One of our statements of faith says at the beginning and end that "we are not alone, we live in God's world."

I thought of a choral piece that affirms this and I found this video of a Mennonite group called the Emerald Chorale spontaneously singing We Are Not Alone, in a church, recorded with a cell phone I think.

What are your thoughts on loneliness? Has your faith and faith family helped in lonely times?


Anonymous said...

I think loneliness is intrinsically intertwined with mental illness,and when the mind is sick the body follows. Often when I complete a short story I discover another story underneath the story I meant to tell, and this underlying story invariably falls under one of two themes. The first is loneliness and the second is forgiveness. Both events deal with an inability to be in relationship with others. Both also deal with our ability to trust that entering into the world is safe, and these obstacles lead to a paralysing isolation that by its nature opposes faith. Faith involves a firm belief that we are not alone. Loneliness insists that we are.

In a state of loneliness, we tend to self impose isolation and barricade ourselves against the world as a way of coping. It isn’t that all loneliness is self imposed, but overcoming it means escaping psychologically as well as socially, and it is the psychological fight that is the real obstacle. To be truthful, my faith did not insulate me from mental illness while in the midst of it. It is hard for others to reach the truly lonely because the effects of loneliness expand exponentially, just as the effects of poverty do. I can say that my faith patiently waited in the background, and was there for me in the recovery phase, but in the end faith requires trust and the overwhelming dynamic of mental illness is distrust. For those interested,the following link is to a short story that I wrote based on my own walk through the extreme loneliness of agoraphobia. I wrote the story as fiction, but although the setting and character description are made up, the description of the agoraphobic behaviour and the thoughts and feelings of the character are my own experience.

sjd said...

10 years this month since I lost my 1st wife suddenly. I remember sitting there in shock waiting for the coroner to make the obvious pronouncement.
I had made 3 phone calls before that. 911, my mother in law, and a friend to take the kids while I got things sorted out.
Somehow there were people from the church there. I was wrapped me in a blanket, they said a prayer with me, a hand on my shoulder. There was nothing else they could do or say. They were there. Thank you.

The next couple of days I had help making funeral arrangements, and getting daycare. I don't remember any decisions I made, but I do remember I was not alone. Thank you.

Over the next number of weeks I had meals left on my door step, offers to help tidy the house, and anything I need, just call. Thank you.

My 1st instinct was to pick up and move back to my parents. I did this for a couple of weeks. When I came back to Bowmanville for Christmas I found that a group of St-Pauls friends had been in my house to decorate for us. We all had a good laugh. Thank you.

I'm not at all an overtly emotional person. I have a limited range of facial expressions. Rarely does a tear pass for a reason other than hammer on thumb. I'm chocked up writing this all these years later. Thank you.

The kindness, and sense of family that I felt from all of you is the reason I stayed in Clarington. I am so happy that I did. Our faith family provided me with my soul mate, and 2 more wonderful chilren.
We were married 8 years ago in September. Thank you.

Sometime I feel lonely, not being from the area, I do miss my friends I grew up with. Then I think about how this event has shaped my life. With all this help I was able to pick up the pieces of a shattered life, and forge ahead in a new direction with great faith that God has a plan for me. God loves me. God has blessed me.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Amen to that.

Laurie said...

To Lori-Ann - I feel like there should be chapter 2, It read like a movie script. I want to know what happened. It made me think. Thanks.