Loneliness is not a disease…

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Courtesy Mario Zucca for the Boston Globe.

Loneliness is not something most of us want to talk about. After all, there is often social stigma attached to a lonely person with few or any friends for that matter. In a world of social media, where one is often measured by the number of friends they have on Facebook or the number of kudos and/or comments they receive on WordPress, to be lonely is the equivalent to being a loser, a social outcast or leper.

I cannot speak for others, but I have honestly felt lonely most of my life. Even during those moments of being surrounded with friends and family, I have had that deep-seated feeling of being lonely and lost in a room full of people.

In high school I ran with the wolves, the rebels. Yet, for reasons that would confound anyone, I was still quite popular with the “in” group and certainly had no shortage of companionship in those early years of young adulthood. Yet, even at large parties amongst friends and a girlfriend, I would experience that “sick” feeling of being lonely – surely there was more to life than this.

I met the woman I truly love at the age of 21, married at 22, and had three girls by the age of 28. A miracle in itself, as the medical experts had declared my wife could NOT have children. In a day and age when many young adults, in their 30’s, are still living with their parents, my life experience would seem strange by comparison. When you have young children, one has to grow up very fast and take responsibility for those precious little lives. Raising three beautiful girls, while we were barely out of our teens ourselves, was never easy, and at times we both despaired and just sat down and cried.

I often felt like I had failed as a husband and father more than I succeeded.

Unless you are writing your finals in university and caring for a child who is teething in the midst of it – you cannot truly understand what I am talking about. Post secondary education is stressful in itself, without dealing with the many sleepless nights, a couple of part-time jobs, and rubbing shoulders with young adults on a university campus who have only one thing on their mind for the coming weekend – endless parties and absolutely no responsibilities.

I suppose you could rightfully call me an “old soul” in my youth. Many of my friends and associates were often 15 to 20 years my senior, yet I could relate to them so much better than my own generation. Having family responsibilities in life does that to a person, and I have absolutely no regrets.

Yet, in spite of all the aforementioned, I often still felt lonely.

Christians often claim that there is no loneliness when we experience God and walk with Him. I beg to disagree – many times in my life God was silent. It was during those times that my faith was stretched until it seemed like a thin thread that I could barely hang on to. Yet, in retrospect, He was always there, though I did not feel Him or sense His presence.

Now, at 57 years of age, as the proud grandfather of two lovely girls, I am thankful to God for carrying us through all those years. We could not have managed by ourselves. Sometimes we just need to reminisce or think back about how God literally carried us through the most difficult of times. I was scared, I was lonely, and I was overwhelmed in the midst of life’s troubles and sorrows. And yet, He never abandoned me.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

This morning, as I was reflecting on what I should write, I stumbled upon an article in the Boston Globe titled, The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness. Oh that’s just peachy, I thought to myself – middle age men who are lonely often die sooner than those who are highly social. I have been married to a wonderful woman for 35 years, I have raised three children, I have earned a university education at a graduate level, I have competed in sport at a national level, I have overcome serious illness and life threatening injury, and now I am going to die prematurely because I have experienced loneliness in my life???

What a crock of dinosaur turds! If I had believed even half of the published studies of psychologists and psychiatrists, I would have put a bullet in my head a long time ago.

Loneliness is not some form of hideous and incurable disease. All of us, at one point in time or another, have experienced this strong feeling and/or emotion. Some of us seem to experience loneliness more than others, but in the final analysis, we put on our big boy pants, suck it up, and move on with the process of living.

The good news is that we are NOT alone – God is there with us, even if we cannot see Him or feel His presence.

#LoveLife

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