Posted Sep 26 2015 by GaryRoe in Abuse Recovery, Death and dying, divorce recovery, Fear, Grief and Loss, Grief recovery, Healing, Healing from the past, Healing from trauma, Honesty and Transparency, Loneliness, Love, Purpose and meaning, Relationships, Suffering and Pain, Trauma recovery with 22 Comments
Loneliness is awful.
I’ve felt alone many times. At times, loneliness seemed to take over my life. I still feel alone more than I admit, even though I’m constantly surrounded by people.
Recently, I ran across a book titled Alone Together. Those two words resonated with me. We say we’re connected because we have more access to one another – email, social media, smart phones, etc. But our technology skims the surface. Attention spans are shrinking. Things seem less safe and secure, causing us to be more private and withdrawn. Things are more global, but less personal.
Then there are the hits – the emotional bullets of life:
- Mental and physical illness
- Financial trouble
- Accidents and disasters
Our lives are in constant flux. All this can leave us stunned and gasping for breath. Feeling alone together has become the norm.
Why Loneliness Hurts
Loneliness hurts. Here’s why:
- We were created for relationship and made for connection.
- Our hearts long to see and be seen, to hear and be heard, to understand and be understood.
- We hunger to love and be loved.
- Our joys and regrets are relational (they are connected to other people somehow).
No wonder loneliness hurts. It’s the opposite of what we’re wired for.
FOUR TRUTHS THAT CAN HELP
There is no magic pill for loneliness. But here are four truths that can help:
1. It’s okay to feel alone.
I tried to ignore loneliness. I gritted my teeth and said, “I will not feel alone. I will not feel alone. I will not feel alone.”
A lot of good that did me.
Feeling alone is part of being human. It comes and goes for all of us. The problem is when loneliness unpacks its bags and takes up residence in our hearts.
Sometimes accepting our feelings is the first step beyond them.
2. Feelings are just emotions. They aren’t necessarily reality.
Our world glorifies feelings. Our emotions seem to run the show. As a counselor friend of mine says, “Mood is king.”
We’re constantly looking to feel good, and if we don’t, we think something’s wrong. And when we’re in pain, we’ll do almost anything to feel better (which can be dangerous!).
Feelings are momentary. Living based on emotion is like chasing after the wind.
3. You’re not alone in feeling lonely.
Almost everyone experiences loneliness on some level. Your emotions are your own, but someone around you is dealing with something similar right now.
The valley of loneliness is more populated than we realize.
4. Being with safe people can make a huge difference.
What’s a safe person?
- They take your heart seriously.
- They accept you (with all your stuff) as you are.
- They don’t try to fix you.
- They are willing to walk with you in your valley.
Many safe people have battled loneliness, and won. That doesn’t mean they never feel lonely, but they no longer allow emotion to rule their lives.
This is what we thirst for – real people who see us, and stay. Spending time with safe people brings healing.
There’s Hope for Us Lonely Folks
Loneliness is part of living in this often harsh, competitive, and disconnected world. It’s all around us, everywhere. The book title was right. We are alone together.
But there is great hope. In this frenetic and fast-paced age, hearts can still connect. Soul wounds can still be treated, and healed. We might all walk with a limp, but we can still walk together.
Alone? Far from it.
Posted Sep 11 2015 by GaryRoe in Abuse Recovery, Courageous Living, Death and dying, Decision-making, Fear, Forgiveness, Grief and Loss, Grief recovery, Guilt, Healing, Peace, Relationships, Suffering and Pain with 18 Comments
Our 12-year-old son Aaron was recently in the hospital for two weeks battling some very stubborn infections. Today, I’m happy to report that Aaron has been home for over a week and is recovering nicely.
Now that the danger is over, we’re extremely relieved. But things could have gone differently. If certain things had not transpired the way they did, Aaron might not be here.
Three specific things helped save my son’s life. They can save our lives as well.
1. ENOUGH OF THE BAD STUFF GOT OUT
Aaron didn’t bounce back from his appendectomy the way we anticipated. Turned out, he was bleeding internally. The result was severe anemia and pockets of infection spread throughout his abdomen.
Interestingly, the offending bacteria didn’t come from the outside. It was in Aaron’s body all the time. When presented with the right set of circumstances, it exploded and became a raging, potentially deadly infection.
They drew out as much infection as they could, and placed two drains to keep the process moving. Simply put, they were trying to get enough of the bad stuff out.
We all have bad stuff lurking inside: ugly habits, terrible thoughts, unresolved grief or anger, nasty regrets, etc. Given the right set of conditions – a trauma, betrayal, rejection, or loss – our emotional bacteria within can surge up and spill out all over the place. If not dealt with, it can consume our lives and relationships.
Like Aaron, to heal, we have to get enough bad stuff out.
2. ENOUGH GOOD STUFF GOT IN
In addition to getting enough bad staff out, Aaron needed to get the right stuff in.
They gave him fluids. He got blood to stabilize the anemia. Once the offending bacteria were identified, they pumped him with targeted IV antibiotics. Fever reducers and pain meds also played a role.
Getting enough bad stuff out and good stuff in proved to be the effective 1-2 punch that put Aaron’s infection on the run.
To keep our bad stuff at bay, we need lots of good stuff coming in:
- Positive challenges
- Intellectual stimulation
- Spiritual nourishment
- Time with inspiring people of character and integrity.
Our wounded hearts need a balance of these things. Like Aaron, getting quality, good stuff in greatly aids our healing over time.
3. A GOOD TEAM JOINED IN THE BATTLE
Without the right people involved, Aaron wouldn’t be here. Doctors, nurses, aides, lab techs, pharmacists, nutritionists, food service workers, housekeeping staff, church folks bringing meals, friends helping our other kids get where they needed to be, and a huge group (including you) who were concerned and praying.
It was an awesome team. Not perfect or mistake-free, but it was the right team for Aaron.
Without a team around us in our battles, sooner or later we’ll drop from exhaustion, and the danger of the succumbing goes way up. We need each other badly.
Who’s on my team?
- Safe family members
- Trusted friends
- Helpful mentors
- Close co-workers
- Medical professionals
- Pastors / spiritual mentors
- People experienced in what I need at the moment
These folks play various roles at different times. They help keep me grounded and sane. They’re in the battle with me.
Our battles can be intense. Like Aaron, we need a diverse team around us to recover, heal, and grow.
WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE VULNERABLE
When our hearts are vulnerable or in danger…
- Watch the ugly stuff inside. It doesn’t have to rule the day.
- Intentionally seek positive inflow. What the heart consumes matters.
- Involve others in the battle. Growth and healing don’t happen in a vacuum.
Life can be scary, and painful. I know you’ve been hit, and hit again. Perhaps you’re holding your breath, waiting for the next blow.
Take heart. You’re not alone. There is hope. Healing is possible.
Gary Roe has been a campus minister, church-planter in Japan, and pastor in Texas and Washington. He currently serves as a writer, speaker and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley in Central Texas.
He is the author of four books, including Heartbroken (Amazon Bestseller, 2015 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist) and Not Quite Healed (co-authored with New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey, 2013 Lime Award Finalist for Excellence in Non-Fiction). With more than 250 articles in print, he is a popular speaker at a wide variety of venues.
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