25th May 2014

How do I cope with feeling alone?

Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, said just before his death, ‘You can have everything in life and still feel lonely, and that is the worst sort of loneliness.’
In the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2, God first created Adam, and put him in the Garden of Eden. He said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Then he brought each type of animal to him to be ‘named’ – a process which would imply some kind of investigation into its nature. None was found to be suitable – not even the horse, the dog or the cat! So God made woman out of Adam’s rib, according to the story – teaching us many things, among which is that human loneliness is cured by human companionship. God did not say, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will be with him for ever.’ Nor did he say, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will clone him.’
Once Eve was with him, Adam was not alone. Presumably the animals were also around, and most importantly, they had a close relationship with God until they disobeyed the one command he had given them. Turning their backs on God spoiled all other relationships – each blamed another, even the soil itself turned against them. The history of the world is the history of spoiled relationships.
Jesus came to put things right – and first he had to put things right between human beings and God. That was what he accomplished on the cross. From that will flow the righting of all other relationships – between human beings, and between everything in all creation, which will unite under Christ the head of the universe. But that perfect harmony is still to come. So today, how do we cope with feeling alone
Jesus demonstrated both a need to be alone at times, and also a need for human companionship. Often he prayed alone; sometimes he prayed when his disciples were nearby – and in the garden of Gethsemane, the time of his greatest trial, he asked his disciples to keep watch with him. They failed him; Jesus was left alone. And on the cross he felt that even his Father God had abandoned him. He knows what it is like to feel utterly alone, and he does not want us to be in a similar position. So he promised to be with us always; and he has broken down the barriers between us and God, and between us and each other.
Most Christians, faced with someone struggling with loneliness, will seek to reassure them that Jesus is always with them, his Spirit lives in them and they are united to God. It is all true; but it is not the answer for us any more than it was the answer for Adam in Paradise. The real answer to human loneliness is to be part of a close human family – and that is what the family of God is meant to be. That is why Jesus commanded his disciples, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’ Other cultures seem not to have a problem with loneliness. In the West, cannot the Church be the answer?
1) How can we befriend the lonely without overwhelming them or us?
2) When do we need to be alone?