Loneliness kills the soul, the heart, the mind and the will to live!
Can I just be honest right out of the gate?
There are many great articles written by experts and educated people on how destructive loneliness, the lack of meaningful relationships, and social isolation are, but I would like to write this article on the experiential aspect of those issues we are all facing now through the social events of late and this pandemic.
Someone asked me not too long ago: Sam, what do you know about loneliness and social isolation? You are a social butterfly! I won’t lie, it was cool to be described as a social butterfly, but what many don’t know is my lifestyle growing up led me to a season of loneliness.
In 2000, because of life choices, I found myself in Orlando, Florida, with no family, no friends, no English, hungry for three weeks (the last only drinking water), lonely, broken, isolated socially and linguistically, which lead me to a desperate place of depression, anxiety, and the desire to commit suicide and to see the end of life. I was hopeless!
There are moments in life that have the power to change the whole course of one’s life.
There is literature that guides you through difficulties by sharing wisdom and giving you the guidance you need to overcome the most difficult times of life.
Have you had one of those defining moments?
Where do you get wisdom and guidance from?
For me, that desperate place of loneliness and hopelessness was the moment my life began to change and the Bible gave me the wisdom and the guidance I relied upon to have a different outcome in life.
I’m glad I went through loneliness because it taught me at least two important lessons: even though people might leave you, God never will, and at that time, I didn’t believe in God.
The second lesson I learned is humans need relationships and can change! I remember craving even my enemy’s presence during that depressing time. I was a caterpillar crawling on earth who turned into a cocoon, but today I am a social butterfly!
See, during the first 20 years of my life, I thought that life was all about me, my values, my ideologies, my beliefs, about me being right and proving people wrong. It was my views that mattered. I rejected the diversity of any kind in my life. If people didn’t think like me or lived life like me, my attitude was “forget you.” I don’t need you.
I lived life as a relationship killer.
Who wants to live life with someone who is always right, eager to prove people wrong, and who bears no responsibility in the need to change?
Of course not, but we must muscle up the courage to look in the mirror! Because that person you don’t want to live with might just be you!
When I say “check the mirror,” I might be referring to check your social media activity, your conversation…
The life we live is the curriculum we teach, and the lessons of our curriculum is taught through the words we use, the action we perform, the thoughts we have, and the paths we walk. I am afraid that in the 21st century, one of the lessons we are teaching is that relationships and people doesn’t matter, but things we have no control over, does!
I am afraid that the culture we are living in today, with the lack of understanding and respect for the difference of thoughts and beliefs … is resembling my youthful, foolish lifestyle, which can lead us to lonely, desperate places, a style of life that kills relationships but glorifies ideologies, beliefs neglecting what is primary for us human beings — meaningful relationships.
In the past few months I have experienced people destroying relationships, expressing themselves recklessly in the name of a cause, or policy, or belief, or ideology, disregarding what is primary to human need for relationships.
I have never become closer to someone by winning an argument but have made many friends by knowing, valuing and caring for them! They matter, I matter, and we need each other!
One lesson I learned back in 2000 is that loneliness kills the soul, the heart, the mind, and the will to live, but relationships make us feel alive. They give us purpose, which helps us discover the meaning of our lives.
Relationships are life giving.
Can we leave the me behind for the sake of relationships?
Can we leave the desire to be right behind to invest in the relationship with someone that thinks differently for the sake of know, value and care?
Can we live sacrificial lives to bless and impact people’s lives positively, instead of sacrificing relationships or people themselves by depersonalizing them?
The past is where our lessons are learned. The future is where we apply those incredible lessons, but we must never neglect and give up in the middle! I’m afraid these days we are giving up in the middle!
Sam Rosa is the senior minister at Delaware Christian Church.