“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved. ” —Mother Teresa
More than 300 million people live in the U.S. Most of us are crowded together in large bustling cities. We are on the cutting edge of technology, enjoying the conveniences of email, telephones and text messaging, faxes, and the Internet. And with each convenience of our modern society, we are promised greater ease for living and…even better… a greater ease for connecting with people.
Yet we are lonely. Terribly lonely.
I’m convinced that loneliness has become an epidemic. Whether it’s listening to a woman in my counseling office, talking with a friend, or assessing my own emotional state at times, a universal theme to our complex lives is loneliness. So why, when we have the capability of being so connected, do we feel so disconnected?
As we spend more time on the Internet, text messaging, or playing games on computers, we are actually spending far less time interacting with the people around us. We’ve also become much busier in our society, coming home exhausted at the end of the day and too tired to engage in true community. So, we spend our evenings mentally decompressing in front of the TV or computer, replacing real relationships with the superficial fluff of Internet networking sites. We desperately need meaningful relationships, yet we are too busy and too pulled to maintain them.
No matter the reason, loneliness is a bigger problem for more people today than at any previous time in history. The ironic fact is this: if you are struggling with loneliness…you are not alone. Loneliness is often a sign of a deeper relationship problem, and our cultural conveniences only perpetuate the problem.
Curing loneliness requires more than just surrounding ourselves with more people. The answer is not the quantity of relationships that we have, but the quality. It may be time to clear out the clutter of over-committed lives and make time for what matters most—satisfying, meaningful relationships. However, for some of us, this feels about as comfortable as a root canal. Past hurts have made us distrustful, so we opt for independence, balking at the thought of allowing another to really know us with authenticity. So I challenge you to deal with the wounds of your soul that keep you living in loneliness, take the risk of real relationship, and find joy in the deeply rewarding experience of knowing and being known.