Shining light on loneliness

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Social isolation sometimes results in loneliness irrespective of one's age, cultural background, or socioeconomic status. But God – compassionate and always there – can help us overcome acute or chronic loneliness when we listen for His guidance in humble prayer.

This doesn't mean learning the discipline to be alone or resigning oneself to an isolated life. When loneliness says there's no one to understand, to care, or to love, and the empty moments keep turning up over and over, this isn't a dead end. When we run out of human fix-it means, we're ready for prayer that opens the way to grow into a deeper understanding of God as Love – as our parent, friend, and confidant. No one is expected to suffer through loneliness, but it can be a springboard for a deeper, heartfelt acceptance of what constitutes our God-given spiritual nature – never alone, always with God.

This doesn't mean that we never have to include people and activities in our life again. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Praying to understand that each of us has an inseparable relationship with Love – that each one of us is the child of Love – opens our whole being to see that this same Love is the source of all relationships, sharing, and harmony with others.

But instead of relying on the relationships and activities themselves, praying shows how to rely on Love, the source of good, which makes everything more rewarding. The fact that the relationship or activity has its source in Love becomes more important than the amount of time spent with another. Sharing with others grows more uplifting and inspirational instead of dependent and confessional. This same prayer makes times of quiet solitude brighter and more satisfying.

Because love is God's law, it unites us in blessing and progress. So when loneliness begs us to fill empty spaces with people, things, or activities, we can begin by embracing ourselves in the qualities of patience, trust, and hope – qualities that Love gives us as its own likeness. We can then feel Love's ever-present embrace.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, confronted many of the problems any human being could face in her heartfelt search for Truth. She was well acquainted with loneliness, and had to learn to gain an unequivocal reliance on God for her comfort, security, and well-being. In her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote, "Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank?" (p. 266). She answered, in part, "... this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love."

The Bible records how Hagar, who bore a child of Abraham, was thrown into the wilderness with her child. Unwanted and alone, she wandered in fear that her child would die. An angel heard her cry and said, "What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink" (Gen. 21:17-19).

That "seeming vacuum" in the wilderness, which was already filled with Love's promises, first became visible to Hagar as a comforting thought from God and then as a well of water. Hagar saw that she wasn't alone, and the Bible indicates she was able to go forward with her life to raise her child with everything he needed.

Science and Health throws spiritual light on the word "wilderness," describing it as: "Loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence" (p. 597).

The right note always corrects the wrong tone of a melody. In the same way, prayer reveals our closeness to God, which prevents feelings of loneliness and separation from hiding the harmony of life.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18

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