Strength comes through Fellowship
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
Isolation and helping others to cope
The content of the following post was originally entitled Loneliness: defining it, identifying it, managing it. I think it was mis-titled, as persons looking at the title probably expected something introspective. Rather this post is useful to minister to others AND relevant to our times as we are put into isolation/self isolation due to the issues surrounding the Covid pandemic (whether one agrees there is a pandemic or regardless of the danger or severity of the virus, we are called by respective governments to isolate upon receiving a positive test result).
So please read the following post with this in mind: We are an increasingly isolated population. Many are starved for relationship and true intimacy. We have the Helper, our GOD, who gives us intimacy like no human being can offer, however close, however compatible, however intimate s/he is to us. Though we also need human companionship, we can manage better than those who do not have the Holy Spirit, and we can learn to support others as we support ourselves.
If you read this last week, I hope you’ll read it again with the improved emphasis.
Isolation, Loneliness and Learning to cope
I had a dream recently and it helped me to understand loneliness.
The dream took place in an era past, where women wore long dresses — perhaps 150 years ago. The dream was about a young woman who was friendless. She was beautiful, quiet, pleasant, but she had no close friends.
One day she went for a walk with a prostitute. They were an unlikely pair, but they talked and in the end they had 10 minutes of passion which I did not dream but new had occurred.
To the prostitute it was a ministry time — she helped the woman rid herself of emotional tension. To the woman it was “glorious”, and she wondered if she was in love. To me, the physical intimacy was (inappropriately) a means to pause temporarily, the emotional pain and starvation from a lack of intimacy.
I am not advocating sex as therapy, nor am I advocating sex between two woman as righteous. I am advocating a serious look at what we as human beings need to feel whole and loved…. it is not sex. It is a meeting of the heart.
In the dream, I sensed the isolation the young woman felt. It was in an era before psychology, a time when the woman might not have known how to define or even to understanding what she was feeling, or the root of it. It was in an era when homosexuality was not acceptable socially or morally, and so it was not a lifestyle option to be advocated for. The woman was a lover of quiet beauty. For some unknown reason, she was unmarried and quite without family, not because she was an outcast but because there was no one with whom she talked to. She spent her time alone for no particular reason I knew in the dream. She just “was” as characters and situations often are in dreams.
The prostitute appeared in the dream, not as one pursuing income — for certainly that would only have come through engagement with a man. She too was alone, friendless, in a society where prostitutes’ only friends were other prostitutes. She was walking in the wood and came across this young woman and they talked.
I was not privy to their conversation but it was not about sex or lust or even about loneliness. They just talked and somehow had a mutuality. They enjoyed each other’s company. Somehow they also had a ‘moment of passion’. Had the dream continued long I suspect the young woman would have had to cope with great confusion about the relationship, the 10 minutes, what — if anything — to do about it. There was a fleeting moment to conclude the dream when an older man approached the woman, told her of his deep love for her, and she said she thought she was in love with the prostitute. I believe her sharing her secret with him, and his maturity and sincere love, would have directed her to understand her need for others, forgiven (for in that era it would be needed) her the 10 minutes, and guided her toward healthy emotional intimacy. If fact, the older man was probably GOD, the Father for us all, if we will embrace His love and forgiveness.
What this dream confirms for me
We live in a confused and busy society. Intimacy has been replaced with activity. But when the pandemic led to lock down, people’s engagement moved almost completely to online chats and activity halted. We had an opportunity to learn to engage, to engage differently yes but to at least engage. Some have done so, others have despaired from loneliness.
Loneliness is lacking intimacy and the way to cope with loneliness is opening our hearts to others.
To express healthy intimacy, we do not share lightly but wisely, finding others who are trustworthy and with whom we engage on matters beyond the superficial, also letting down the pretence of self-sufficiency.
We share wisely, with others who are trustworthy and non-judgmental.
We share at levels, more deeply with those closer.
We share most deeply, if we are wise, with our Lord and Saviour Yeshua Jesus, and with the Father, though our walk with the Holy Spirit.
But GOD knows we need people. He created people because He wants to engage with others… He created David and Jonathan, friends who loved one another as brothers. Even Jesus, who had thousands of followers and a 120 numbered disciples, had his closest 12, his dearest 3 and John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” as his dearest friend.
It is not easy to find close friends. And we become proficient in our society to learn to manage on our own. But we need friends.
Autumn is here and winter is coming
I’m posting this in September because we are approaching the winter season, This is the time when the light fades earlier and people step outside less often, not lingering on the street to chat with neighbours, which is for some, their only opportunity for conversation.
I’m posting this because we live in a society where sex has replaced intimacy for many people. All people are empty inside and are in need of love, care and communication, but sadly, some confuse intimacy and sex and look to fill the void with the latter.
I’m posting this because I realise I lack my truest close friend now that my husband has passed away… although even my husband was not as close to me as Jesus, with whom I receive total understanding.
I’m posting this because we all need intimacy. The deepest intimacy comes through our relationship with Jehovah GOD. But He knows we also need flesh and bone relationship and conversation — not just conversation on a superficial level, though that helps; we need a meeting of the heart. Sometimes this springs from shared activity; sometimes from analytical conversation and a sharing of ideas — a meeting of the mind. But we do need it. We are made that way. And it’s okay to yearn for it when we lack it.
I recently read in Elizabeth Elliot’s book Suffering is Never for Nothing, that love ultimately leads to suffering. I am not advocating suffering but I am advocating taking the risk of sharing earnestly with carefully chosen persons, which may lead to disappointment, suffering. Even though it might, I say this in advance: Don’t give up.
We are a lonely society, with more connections than we know how to handle, and perhaps without one or two we really need.
I pray for us all, that intimacy with the Father will grow, and that He will lead us to others who will help to fulfil that void, the emptiness of loneliness, that only an earnest and healthy relationship with a fellow human being can fill.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.