Without friends and family, an answer to feeling lonely

A Christian Science perspective: How a man who felt lonely and isolated while stationed overseas, far away from friends and family, found companionship and comfort.

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The almost overwhelming trend of staying in constant touch with friends and family is a huge issue today. The Internet, text messaging, cellphones – they have all enabled people to connect anytime day or night, regardless of where they live or which time zone they are in.

For some, this communication is essential for sharing business information or political opinions, or simply arranging meetings. But for others, it might indicate a fear of feeling separated, lonely, and isolated. The desire to have the comforting reassurance of family and friends, their support and love, is natural. On the other hand, when the desire becomes an obsession, that can be a problem.

I remember one day in particular when I felt absolutely separated from friends and family. It was a sudden empty feeling that my human circumstances could not solve. I had just been stationed overseas for a military assignment. I didn’t know anyone. Even my military colleagues in training had been sent to other countries. I was single – no family, no friends, not much opportunity to be in touch with those familiar to me.

One Sunday morning while I was waiting for the service to begin at a local Christian Science church I was visiting, my loneliness seemed acute. To find help I looked up the hymns we were going to sing and gradually began to feel a sense of warmth and comfort. Even in those few minutes before the service, my feelings of isolation and loneliness began to fade until they completely disappeared.

The hymns I read spoke of God’s love for all His children, of God as Father-Mother, giving peace and joy to His family, of divine Love’s immediate and ever-present care for everyone. The first hymn was a musical setting of a poem by Mary Baker Eddy, and included the phrase “His habitation high is here, and nigh,/ His arm encircles me, and mine, and all” (“Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 207).

I walked out of church totally free from any sense of loneliness and isolation. I was healed, and tangibly felt God’s care and presence. It was easy to respond to the gracious hospitality of the members greeting me as a visitor to their church.

That healing of momentary, intense separation not only helped regarding my own personal needs, but it also helped me look outward to those around me and to be more loving, more inclusive. I no longer felt alone and isolated. A week or so later, a couple in the church invited me to their home after a service and offered their hospitality during the time I would be stationed in their country. They even gave me a key to the house and “assigned” a spare room in the house for me to use anytime I needed it. Our friendship blossomed and lasted for many years.

Whether we are faced with a future event that seems isolating, or something imminent, we can find great comfort in turning to God as ever-present divine Love. Whether one feels lonely or isolated from others by tragedy, separation, or by change of location, there is no better way to fill that vacuum than to turn to the presence and love of God for comfort and sustenance.

The husband who welcomed me into their home had a favorite saying: “God is closer to me than my fingernail is to my flesh.” That was always a comforting reassurance because it hinted at God’s closeness to each one of us, even when we feel very alone. Since God, infinite Love, is always present and fills all space, no one can escape that tender, comforting, and healing divine influence. Our part is to turn to divine Love with an open heart and trust in His goodness and benevolence.

The writer of Psalms speaks to the Bible reader with such comfort: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7-10).

God’s love is universal, unlimited by circumstance, events, or conditions. No one can “flee from” His presence, because God, divine Love, is always present. We can say to Him, “Thy right hand shall hold me, and everyone.”

For a Spanish translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.

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