MANAGING LONELINESS

2020 will go down in history as one of the most difficult years in human history. The year witnessed the massive spread of the COVID 19 pandemic and various fallouts of it. I had just moved to Canada for a church plant when on returning to Nigeria for a branch church anniversary the lockdown took place. On returning to Canada in September, I had to isolate in my rented apartment for two weeks. It was the first time in my entire life that I would be confined to such limited place for two weeks all by myself. It felt like a prison, strange and extremely lonely. For the first time in my life, I had a true sense of loneliness and it was depressing. My heart therefore goes out to the forsaken and lonely today. I feel your plight a little. My sojourn in the flat by myself with rare and occasional visits continued for as long as 2-3 months a time as the pandemic raged. I just had to learn to manage the situation to save myself from drowning in a pit of depression.

I began to wonder how people dealt with living alone for years. Most people find themselves in the situation unintentionally and due to life circumstances from delayed marriage, widowhood, separation and divorce, relocation and deportation. God from the very beginning looked at the first human being He made and said ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’(Genesis 2.18). Man was created for connection and relationships. Two are better than one also said the preacher in Ecclesiastes 4.9. The wisdom of God rings so true in human experience today. There is health and wholeness where there is connection and there is depression in isolation. On the contrary , there is a multiplier effect to labor, effort and investment in partnership. The preacher said ‘…they have a good reward for their labor’. Again in battle, the bible says that ‘one shall put a thousand to flight and two shall put ten thousand to flight’.

What then happens when I find myself in isolation? What do I do if unmarried at 50? How do I handle being alone from family and close friends in a foreign nation. It can be quite an extremely vulnerable place to be because life has several unhealthy alternatives. In a day and age where there are a plethora of dating sites, frenemies in the neighborhood, gangs, cults and predators who can easily discern the lonely and exploit them, we must be circumspect. We must be careful to respond positively in a potentially dangerous circumstance. Failure to patiently do so may lead to the loss of financial fortunes and even lives, failed marriages, adulterous affairs and dabbling into supportive wrong companies.

I believe the starting point is to deepen our relationships with God. I had to admit my addiction to ministry, especially to always attending to people at the detriment of a richer relationship with God. I remembered how much I used to cherish every opportunity to be alone so I could spend more time in prayer, fasting and the Word and wondered what must have happened to me over the years. It opened up an opportunity to rediscover the deeper joys of enjoying communication with the Holy Spirit and basking in His manifest presence. Adam met God at the same time he gained self consciousness as the one who breathed into him was still all over him(Genesis 2.6-7). Similarly, Eve met her creator and had a vital relationship with Him before He took her to him(Genesis 2.22). Relationship with God must be prioritized and advantage must be taken of the lack of the distractions of marriage and or parenting to develop an intimate walk with God.

Close on the hills of the above is a focus on service to God and others. There is something about service that is fulfilling, creates deep connections with those we serve, and distracts us from focusing on ourselves and our shortcomings. A life selflessly devoted to giving to others, meeting their needs, contributing to societal development, making a difference by solving communal problems is a life that will not lack love and rich fulfillment. God has designed life to operate in a Law of action and reaction, sowing and reaping, cause and effect. A life of sacrificial service will reap harvests in multiple folds and therefore enjoy abundance of reciprocity and mutuality that will add happiness and delight to the soul. Service is mostly done in connection with others and that ensures partnerships, comradeship and collaborations. A life lived like that is a rich one.

Temporary healthy distractions like watching movies, playing games, connecting with others through social media, reading, meditation, speaking words of affirmation, journaling and going out with friends will deny the mind of endless hours of moaning circumstances that cannot change overnight. Remember none of us is an accident. God has a beautiful plan for your life and He Will bring it to pass as you seek His Kingdom and His righteousness as a priority. All other things will definitely be added to you. It’s just a matter of time. But as you wait, manage the temporary situation wisely.

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