Three Ways Not to Cure Loneliness

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My facebook status can be liked by my grandma, an old high school friend, and the missionary I worked with once overseas all in the same minute. We are more connected today than we ever have been before but seem lonelier. Even though we are connected on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat we still feel a deep longing for more meaningful relationships.

Did you know it is possible to be in a room full of people, even people you call friends, but still feel alone? There are few things worse in life than that feeling.

Loneliness is the painful awareness of isolation, emptiness and an intense longing for deeper relationships. Loneliness brings with it feelings of rejection, being left out, unwanted and misunderstood.

How do we cure loneliness?

A Japanese company invented the “hugging chair”. For $419 you do not ever have to feel alone again!

The chair is about as helpful as these three things you might have tried.

Get Busier

I’m sitting in my room alone right now, if only I was busier I would not feel so alone.

Swamp yourself with school work, keep long office hours or fill your schedule with things to do – and you will still feel lonely. Busyness does not lead to deep relationships. Maybe this is why in America we work insanely long work hours and psychologists tell us we are lonelier than ever before.

Busyness is a distraction that numbs the pain of isolation but never fixes the problem.

Sometimes business is equated with significance. Significance can be a pretty strong anesthetic. But it is only as good as those pain meds you get after your wisdom teeth get pulled, eventually they wear off and you are left with nothing but an empty hole and a nagging pain.

Get a Significant Other

Look at that couple, they seem so happy – If only I had someone to be happy with I would not feel so alone.

Our desire for intimacy drives us into what ends up being hurtful, destructive relationships.

Truth: Lonely single people just become lonely people in a relationship. Then you just break up because someone else might be able to cure your loneliness.

Even worse – bypass the “significant” part and just go for a quick hook up. Friends with benefits may seem to be better than no friends at all.

In the end, asking someone else to solve a problem they cannot solve, never works out. Also, just because someone is keeping the pillow next to you warm does not make you feel any less lonely.

Get Wasted

Forgetting is not fixing but at least I forgot for a while.

There are numerous reasons for the party culture on college campuses. I have heard one reason over and over again: For a night, escape from our pain is possible.

But it is just a night.

Like all problems in life, when we try to solve it in the wrong way, it usually results in a whole new set of issues. Distractions are not a cure – just a short fix. What if you could have a fix that lasts a lifetime?

Redefining the Loneliness

Popular thought is that loneliness is a social problem.

We say, “if only I was more outgoing…” or “If only I had one close friend…”

But what if loneliness is a spiritual problem. What if we came to God with our loneliness and let him redefine it.

He might say, “You are lonely, and that is an issue that cannot be solved by a close friend, a group, or a social experience – you need me!”

I love the story of a girl named Hagar (I know, crazy name). Her story is told in the book of Genesis.

Hagar was an Egyptian woman, meaning she was likely enslaved as a result of a lost battle. Abraham’s people said, “You become our servants and we won’t kill you.” She has made a deal, “I give you my life so you don’t kill me.”

Hagar ends up pregnant with Abraham’s son. She had done so with the full consent of his wife too!

Hagar thinks, “This is my chance. I’m going to give birth to Abraham’s heir. I have finally arrived. Life is going to get better.”

Hagar finds out though, that Abraham’s wife, Sara, is planning on just taking the Baby after birth and raising it as her own. Hagar begins to despise Sarah, she actually hates her.

Sarah comes to Abraham and complains about Hagar. Abraham says, “Do with her as you please.”

Sarah beats Hagar.

You can almost see Hagar huddled in a corner, all alone, afraid of losing her baby. She wonders why no one is coming to help her.

Eventually, she runs and hides, and seeks escape from her circumstances. She runs away, she comes to a well where she sits down. Maybe she can spend the rest of her life here.

She is all alone.

Then behind her the Angel of the Lord leans down and asks her, “Hagar, where have you come from, where are you going?”

God came near. What Hagar needed was not another friend. Hagar did not need to be busier, find a husband or drink the night away. She needed God.

Our loneliness is not a social problem it is a spiritual problem. We need God.

What would happen in your life if you pursued more of him? I wonder what would happen to our loneliness.

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Naked Celebrities, Sexting and Things That Break My Heart

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Searches on Google for actress Jennifer Lawrence skyrocketed a week ago. As you probably already know, the star of Hunger Games was not being searched out because adoring fans wanted to know more about her role as Katniss. Nude photos of her (along with other young celebrities) were stolen and released on the internet for all to see.

I couldn’t tell you the details, but what matters is that there were photos and they were not meant for the public.

My heart breaks for those whose privacy was stolen.

My heart breaks that we live in a world where someone would intentionally hack another’s account with the purpose of hurting them.

But can we go a little deeper? Does it not break anyone else’s heart that there is a demand for these pictures? My heart breaks that there are people who will seek out these photos for their own personal enjoyment.  Google reports that searches for “Jennifer Lawrence” skyrocketed in the days following the release of the photos. It is easy to see there is a depravity-driven appetite in each of us.

It might be enough to stop here and say, “If we didn’t demand it, things like this wouldn’t happen.” But we cannot stop here.  

Let’s think about the leaked photos on a much larger scale. The demand of men today for naked pictures forces girls to assume their worth is in their physical appearance, their ability to be sexy and willingness to expose themselves.

The message is loud and clear – you are nothing more than something for my enjoyment.

This breaks my heart.

There are a lot of different statistics out there, but let’s say that one in four teenagers will be involved in sexting. This is the exchange of sexually explicit texts and pictures.

I will make a simple assumption. If a girl is sending a picture of herself naked to a guy, the girl was asked to. Maybe by the guy or our culture. Either way, something has gone terribly wrong when a girl feels the need to reveal herself to a guy.

It is becoming easier for a young girl to believe they are nothing more than physical beauty.

So, to the girls:

  • Your value is not in a picture you could send. I’m sorry that some guys have forgotten that you are a daughter of the king.

To the guys:

  • Let’s choose to affirm girls for something other than their looks.

 

What Flappy Birds says about my need for Jesus

flappy birdYes, I downloaded the game Flappy Bird.

Yes, I have yelled at that poor little bird.

Yes, I almost threw my device across the room in frustration.

I bet you have too.

Registering an incredible 50 million downloads, Flappy Bird, is a cultural phenomenon. This past week the developer of the game stopped selling Flappy Bird in the app store. He was interviewed by Forbes Magazine and asked why he took it down.

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed, but it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

You can read the whole story here.

Why are we addicted to such a simple game?

The game tricks us into thinking with one more try, we will do better. Sometimes we do better – but it is never enough. Which is why that game is frustrating, maddening and even heartbreaking. Its why you curse under your breath and throw things.

We are obsessed with winning, but you cannot win. There is no end. The only way to be a winner is in comparison to your previous score or compared to your friend across the room. But the game always ends with a loss.

You can do better but you cannot win.

This is life without Jesus. There is a lie that has been around long before Flappy Bird, it goes like this: “Doing better is enough.” But it is not, that’s why the game keeps you coming back for more. That is also why in life you will never be satisfied with better.

You can sin less but you cannot be sinless on your own.

It is not enough to be better than you were yesterday. It is not enough to be better than someone else. This is the fundamental problem of humanity. This kind of life tends to be frustrating, maddening, and heartbreaking. Doing better is not what satisfies.

Only Jesus wins. He wins on our behalf.

Flappy Birds is like life. It is frustrating, until I realize that Jesus has already won for me, I don’t have to play the game anymore. I don’t need to be better. I need Jesus. The cross is the only thing that is enough. Jesus took care of it.

When I realize that Jesus has won for me, I am free to lose. When I stop trying to save myself by doing better and let Jesus save, it’s incredibly peaceful.

What if everyone knew this truth? What if you actually believed it? What if you devoted your life to proclaiming the saving power of Jesus death and resurrection?

The game always ends by losing. Jesus has already won. I cannot lose.