• Perry Floyd

One answer to loneliness

What's a lonely person to do?

Imagine a group of people tossing the ball to one another, trying to keep it aloft. But one member of the group never has the ball tossed her way. Put yourself in her shoes: you're in a group that starts a game of catch; the ball flits randomly around the group; giggling and frivolity ensue; you keep waiting for your chance to join in the fun. But the ball never comes your way. You're patient at first, smiling when others smile. You inch a little further into the circle to try to draw attention. Your smile becomes more forced until eventually you conclude: the ball is never coming your way. This game isn't for you. You pretend you didn't want to play anyway. You stop trying.

Researchers discovered that the ostracized person will testify to an increased sense that life is meaningless and devoid of purpose. Now imagine this isn't an experiment but the shape of a life: instead of waiting for a ball to come your way in a silly game of catch, you're waiting for anyone to call or drop by or speak your name. You can't even express it, but you're hungering for some sign that you are known. But no one calls. No one asks how you're doing. No one listens to your thoughts about the morning news. You are alone.

Loneliness has become a societaL epidemic in late capitalist societies. For example, one study from the U.K. (although the US has a similar picture) concludes:

Loneliness is linked to cardiovascular disease, dementia and depression and according to some researchers, its effect on mortality is similar to smoking and worse than obesity. One study revealed that it can increase the risk of an early death by as much as 30 percent. There is also a strong link between isolation and poverty: having two or more close friends reduces the likelihood of poverty by nearly 20 percent.

One answer it to join a community or group that is accepting, welcomes new people, and works to be supportive -- like Vineyard Church ABQ -- where all people are welcome. I hope to see you Sunday at 10:30 am for celebration, worship...AND HUGS. Perry Floyd

Adapted from James K.A. Smith, "Not Meant To Be Alone," Commentary (5-3-18)

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