When I was single and living in New York City, I felt intensely lonely. During the day I'd have the camaraderie of my co-workers. But more often than not, I'd spend evenings and most weekends alone. I might as well have been living on Mars!
After several months, I began to seriously pray about this problem.
I considered at length that I was God's beloved, His daughter. As the very object of God's affection, I could not be denied anything so precious as friendship, which is a normal and natural part of living. I also thought about the motivation for everything I did being love.
I read something written by Mary Baker Eddy (who founded Christian Science and also this newspaper) in a book called "Miscellaneous Writings." It asks if we might have a friend whom we've forgotten to be grateful for (see pg. 339). That made me sit up and take notice.
I thought long and hard about someone whose friendship I could nurture. I was not sure how it could relate to my situation. Working as a temporary office assistant during the day, I had little chance to make friends. Sometimes I'd work at two or three different companies within one week. The people I met kind of became a blur. I often felt like I was on the outside looking in.
Then I had a flash! I remembered bolting out of an adult education class one evening in an effort to catch my bus (even though I really wasn't in any hurry to return to my apartment). Truth is, I just felt too shy to strike up a conversation with any of my classmates. A few blocks along, I realized someone was following me.
"Hello," a young woman had called out, trying to catch up with me. "I've seen you a few times in class. I've wanted to say Hi, but you always seemed to be in such a hurry."
Well, I thought of that dear person now, and my eyes began to fill with tears. Frankly, I was amazed she had gone to the trouble of trying to meet me, as I had probably appeared so standoffish. So SHE was the friend I decided to be grateful for. (That happened over 30 years ago, and I still remember that event as vividly as if it were yesterday. She had beautiful red hair. I can even remember her name.)
In my prayers, I had been asking for companionship. But it became clear to me that I couldn't just sit back and wait for everything to drop in my lap. I had to make an effort and be proactive. And I decided that if someone reached out to me in kindness, it should be my pleasure to reciprocate.
"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love," it says in the book of Romans (12:10). I often turn to the Bible for comfort and inspiration. The problems we address today are no different from those encountered by people in biblical times, thousands of years ago. The advice to "be kindly affectioned" became one of my daily goals. And before long that vacuum of loneliness was filled, naturally and easily, with some very happy friendships. One of them endures to this day.
Think of affection first in spiritual terms - that is, putting God into the picture. You are able to love in an impartial and unselfish way because God is Love. And as His "image" and "likeness" (see Gen. 1:26, 27), you have to express Love - bear witness to Him (see Isa. 43:12).
No one should feel lonely or be denied the joy of friendships. Every day we have opportunities to reach out and be a friend to someone - be it a co-worker, a relative, or the bus driver. It's with these beginnings that we find out how "God setteth the solitary in families" (Ps. 68:6).
Loving people is supposed to feel as natural as breathing. A heart filled with kindness and love has no room for loneliness.
True prayer is not
asking God for love;
it is learning to love, and
to include all mankind
in one affection.
Mary Baker Eddy
You will find in-depth articles about God's power in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society