Eating healthier, losing weight, exercising, becoming a more positive person, breaking bad habits, getting out of debt. These are common New Year resolutions. And they’re great ones. But I think there’s one that’s even better than any of these…And one that should be at the top of our priority list of resolutions.
There is a dark pit of emptiness many people struggle with for various reasons. You may recognize these symptoms of loneliness not only in others, but may also struggle with it yourself.
Aloneness was the first problem that occurred within the history of mankind. God said, “…It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:18) God recognized our need for connection. A place to belong. We have the deep longing to belong to another person, family, or group.
Loneliness is the platform the enemy uses to speak his lies. He wants us to suffer and struggle alone—trapped in confusion, doubt and desolation. But loneliness isn’t always the result of being alone. You can be alone, yet not feel lonely. You can also feel lonely while surrounded by people.
So how can a resolution relieve loneliness?
It’s pretty ironic that, in our hyper-connected society, loneliness continues to increase. Some of the loneliest individuals are those who are socially connected, yet are disconnected from the “real world.”
I believe electronics in general is one of the culprits of loneliness in today’s age, and in particular, our society’s obsession with social media is a huge influence.
Did you know that when you use the artificial means of connecting via social media, you likely will become more lonely? Why? Because in the process of staying connected, you’re actually isolating yourself from those right around you. The absence of meaningful connection with others is often the result of too much social media. That feeling of something being missing or incomplete may be the result of the time you’re spending on electronics. And not bonding enough with family members and those closest to you.
Loneliness signals to us our need for deep connections to other people. And those individuals should be those who are right around us. Our family and nearby friends. Each of us are created for these intimate and meaningful connections and the need to belong. Yet, we are prone to isolate ourselves.
Our society has created a self-centered, isolated world. Many individuals are lonely even when they’re with family. We’ve created isolation in many ways by all the separate rooms, cars, televisions, separate schedules, engagements, and activities. This aloneness has robbed us of inner peace and joy that can only be found in personal heart-to-heart connections and togetherness.
How much connecting is really happening when a family is sitting in the same room, yet each person is absorbed in their own little world? If you’re still not convinced of the dangers of social media, then you should do the research regarding the addiction of social media. View an article on this here.
It’s obvious to see how each of us can become addicted to our smart phones. Just watch what happens when people are alone for any amount of time. When they have to stand in lines at the store or get stuck in traffic, they become fidgety and anxious. One of the first things they do is reach for their phones.
We don’t like to be alone. But instead of reaching out to those in the real and visible world around us, we become lost in a virtual world. But this connection is not the answer or the cure. Instead, it’s only the symptom. And in the process, we’re missing the opportunity of reaching out to the lonely individuals around us.
So back to my earlier question, how can a resolution help to relieve loneliness?
This year, one of my resolutions is to reach out in a greater way to those around me. To help the elderly woman who’s shopping alone and can’t reach the bottle of molasses on the top shelf. To assist the young dad who’s trying to figure out what a pomegranate is, while he’s also struggling with his toddler. To take the time to visit the elderly who can’t get out any more. To share the hope of Jesus to those who are confined in prison. To visit the homes of those who are not readily accepted in our society. To carve out time for family game night.
Because the cure for loneliness is connection.
Every time you have a spare minute, and you are deciding how to spend that time, ask yourself, “What will bring the most connection?” You can reach for your phone, check your emails, open your favorite social media app, or you can look around you and strike up a conversation with a stranger, invest in your little ones, let someone know you’re thinking about them.
I’m choosing to think of others more than myself. I’m continuing to limit my social connections to more fully hear and care for those physically in my presence.
Loneliness will continue to increase until we take drastic steps in our every day lives to combat it. Your teenager, spouse, sibling, parent, coworker and even young child may be struggling with loneliness. They may not realize it. But those feelings of unrest, frustration and anger may be caused by the underlying need for connection. To be able to share their desires, dreams and struggles with you.
Should you be making THIS your New Year’s resolution? If you find yourself personally struggling with loneliness, reach out to those who are closest to you. Allow them to help keep you accountable. Set limits on your phone or computer.
This is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make for 2018.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)