Feeling lonely in a group of friends and neighbors

A Christian Science perspective: Spiritual ideas on overcoming loneliness and social anxiety.

Even though guests were coming in the front door, I began to feel very lonely and self-conscious. My parents had invited some friends and neighbors over for a potluck supper, and my job was to be at the front door to welcome them, make sure they found a good place to park, and to hang up their coats and hats.

As people began to fill the living room and dining room, I could feel myself getting nervous. It’s not that I had lived in isolation up to then, because I had just returned from serving in the military overseas, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that these people were curious and critical of me – of what I was wearing and what I was doing with my life.

The feeling of being under their scrutiny even made me perspire uncomfortably. It felt as if everyone at the supper was focusing their attention on me for no good reason. I wanted to run and hide. But I was there to help, and I couldn’t leave the house.

Having addressed other adverse situations through prayer by turning my thought to God, I felt this would be a good opportunity to do just that. My study of the Bible and Christian Science had taught me that God was Love and that we were His children. As I considered this idea, I realized, to some degree, that I was under God’s love and care, and there was no reason for me to feel so separated, isolated, and uncomfortable.

As I looked to God, divine Love, for answers, the thought came to me that I was the one who was focusing so critically on myself. I was the one who wondered if I was wearing the right clothes and what I was going to do now that I was out of the military.

I realized that as a Christian Scientist, it was more important to think of God’s love for all His children, including me, than to engage in critical, self-centered concerns about myself and of what others were thinking of me.

I began to consider what Christ Jesus said about letting our light shine – letting our love be a light for others – to glorify God. In his Sermon on the Mount, he said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

These ideas woke me up to realize that focusing so much on myself prevented me from seeing the bigger picture: that we all are the offspring of divine Love and are made to express God’s love.

Right there in the middle of our potluck supper, I had a change of heart.

I started getting engaged with the people around me – asking questions about where they lived and what they did for a living. That whole sense of loneliness and lack of confidence disappeared when I focused on loving God and man. The sense of God’s love for His children, and the consequent love I had for those around me, completely changed my attitude and connection with those people. I felt comfortable and loving toward every person at the supper. Any concern I had about myself was gone – replaced by a genuine interest and care about them. I felt so much better.

This made me realize that it was so much more important to be acquainted with God – to deeply consider the all-embracing, pure love that came from God – than to think only about myself, which can make one feel lonely and isolated.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, “God is our Father and our Mother, our Minister and the great Physician: He is man’s only real relative on earth and in heaven. David sang, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.’

“Brother, sister, beloved in the Lord, knowest thou thyself, and art thou acquainted with God?” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 151).

As we begin to recognize God as our loving Father-Mother, and that we are created to express His love, any aggressive or lingering sense of feeling alone, separated, and isolated from others and the world around us diminishes, until it disappears; it is replaced by a very deep confidence that God is here with all His children – including you and me.

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