I suspect in our present post-pandemic era people are hungry for connection and community. My recent experience working with the unsheltered in Dallas has brought home the importance of community in peoples lives. Every day, I see people who are alone.
As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts—the God who created us recognized our need for community early on.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”Genesis 2:18 (English Standard Version)
COVID-19 pulverized our routines. Everything we once did abruptly froze in place. The pandemic upheaved life-long liturgies and common daily practices. Our weekly worship? Disrupted. The handshake? Disappeared.
Loneliness increased exponentially since the pandemic. It’s hard to fathom that with 7.98 billion people living on the planet how someone might feel completely alone.
A 2018 Harvard magazine article estimated that 22 percent of people living in America experienced feelings of social isolation and loneliness. The article also points out that loneliness is subjective and not always easy to spot.
Loneliness is complicated and complex. From a distance, someone can appear to have tons of friends and relationships while experiencing a sense of being lonely.
An article published by the American Psychological Association earlier this year estimates that the percentage of people who are lonely increased significantly.
Why does this matter? Problems with loneliness fuel other indulgences. People who are alone often seek to medicate their emptiness. Being lonely can cause individuals to make choices they wouldn’t make. Loneliness results in depression, anxiety, problems sleeping, increased stress, and low self-esteem.
The other day I read a post by my blogger brother Jim on his Fit Recovery site about intimacy. I couldn’t help but connect loneliness with the lack of human intimacy. I’m not talking about sexual intimacy—-knowing someone in that way. I’m referring to the intimacy that comes from a closeness fostered through a deep, emotional connection. It is the kind of intimacy that is expressed by people who deeply love someone, like a mother loves her child or a husband loves his wife.
The average homeless person goes months without anyone speaking their name. Months. They go even longer without the touch of another human being—at least not a non-transactional touch. Can you imagine not hearing someone speak your name for three or four months?
To be clear, homeless people aren’t the only ones experiencing loneliness. Yesterday, in a conversation with a friend, we discussed how family dysfunction can also result in loneliness and isolation. Families, although blood kin, can lack intimacy. After all, just because you are related to someone doesn’t mean you know them at all, let alone intimately. How much do you really know about the people in your own family?
I know from experience that community makes a huge difference in the lives of people. The presence of community—-a strong network of people who love you—-can keep you from landing on the streets when you encounter a series of crises that overwhelm you and make your life unmanageable.
I believe that there are seas of people who are craving community after enduring the trauma of isolation resulting from the pandemic.
My friend, I pray that in this moment you do not ignore whoever God calls to your mind. Reach out and contact them. Perhaps you can make someone who feels alone remember what it is to belong and to be loved. That’s something we all need.
May the Lord shine kindness on you. Please know you are loved.
Blessings and favor,
The Devotional Guy™