From loneliness to permanently companioned

Even in today’s interconnected world, loneliness is all too common, especially in light of widespread physical distancing efforts. But as a woman found when faced with recurring bouts of loneliness, the realization that God’s love and companionship are always present can heal lonely hearts and strengthen our relationships.

Have you ever felt lonely? I know I have. With the recent requirements for physical distancing, many people are struggling with being alone for far too long.

Even before the coronavirus had entered the scene, Britain had started a successful campaign to pair volunteers with those experiencing loneliness. There are statistics indicating that the feeling of loneliness is on the rise in other places, too.

Genuine caring from another individual can lessen feelings of loneliness. But at times I’ve felt lonely even when loved ones are present. So what permanently fills the void?

I faced this very question last year when our son got married. My husband and I happily welcomed our new daughter-in-law into the family, but thinking about the changes to come brought feelings of loss. My son and his fiancée had a yearlong engagement with many joyful gatherings. But each occasion seemed to bring on bouts of loneliness for me. Sometimes it would come as not feeling accepted by the group, as kind as they were. Other times it was just emptiness or fears about the future.

For me, a key step has been realizing that, fundamentally, companionship isn’t a physical need but a spiritual one. And I’ve found the antidote is becoming more aware of our oneness with God. Christian Science explains that God is infinite and always present, and that our entire being is the expression of God’s qualities. Our relation to God is like the sun and its rays. God is the sun, and we shine forth, or reflect, His infinite light.

You can’t get any closer than that. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38, 39).

But how do we experience this oneness when loneliness seems overwhelming? It starts with prayer that affirms God’s presence and power, and our true nature as the expression of divine goodness and joy. This is not an intellectual process. It’s an opening of thought to God that surrenders a mortal, material sense of existence in favor of spiritual reality: the always-present power of God that is forever good and loving.

God is closer than our next thought, and His entire being is Love. As we read in the Bible, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).

This spiritual reality is not some far-off ethereal wispiness. It is here now. “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the Monitor’s founder, defines “substance” in part as “that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance ...” (p. 468). Truth, Life, and Love are Bible-based names for God. Divine substance is always present, and infinitely so. It is rock solid.

This idea of our dependable, substantial relation to God became my bedrock. Each time I turned to God in prayer, I would feel a reassuring sense of companionship and acceptance as God’s loved child. It was not a consolation prize or a feeling I was getting something that was second best. It was the best – a warm and fully satisfying sense of God’s presence and power.

Step by step it became easier to see that I could never truly be lonely. Praying to understand more of my oneness with God freed me from the fear of being alone. As I became more confident in God’s unwavering companionship, I became freer with my own expressions of caring because my happiness wasn’t dependent on acceptance or companionship in return. I realized I already had these and could joyously express love toward others. The bouts of loneliness stopped, and I have good relationships with family members old and new.

This feeling of loving companionship with our divine Father-Mother, God, is available to everyone. It satisfies the heart with permanent companionship and provides a more solid basis for our relationships with one another.

Editor’s note: As a public service, all the Monitor’s coronavirus coverage is free, including articles from this column. There’s also a special free section of JSH-Online.com on a healing response to the global pandemic. There is no paywall for any of this coverage.

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