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To the Lonely…

Are you struggling with loneliness—feeling forgotten during this difficult time of isolation? By Major Jason Swain
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In my lifetime, I have never been quarantined for long periods of time. There were definitely periods of self-exile and times when traveling that I was alone.  However, being alone and being lonely are two very different things.

Loneliness in our time has almost become an epidemic itself. We are more connected than any other time in history, and yet we can be incredibly lonely.  On a crowded street or in a busy restaurant, you can observe small groups of people who are engaged with their cellphones more than with the people around them, even if the people with them are close friends.

I have been a single Salvation Army officer (pastor) for over 20 years. I have faced the darkness of loneliness, and occasionally still battle with it. However, I retain a small body of close friends, and also feel that I am never truly alone as the Holy Spirit ministers and speaks to me on a daily basis.

Jesus tells His disciples near the end of the gospel of Matthew, “And surely I am always with you, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV). Christians throughout the centuries have always testified that they always feel that Jesus is with them, in all of life’s trials and tribulations.

There is an old Christian hymn with words that encourage us today:

“GOD is with us, God is with us, So our brave forefathers sang,

Far across the field of battle, Loud their holy war cry rang;

Though at times they feared and faltered, Never once they ceased to sing:

God is with us, God is with us, Christ our Lord shall reign as king!”

During these days of questions and some fear, we must never cease to believe that God is truly with us. Us. Together as a group of believers.

Here are three takeaways to help you combat loneliness if you are sheltering at home:

1. STAY CONNECTED TO FAMILY & FRIENDS

Quarantined does not mean disconnected. While I would limit social media, I would also use its feature to stay connected to family and friends who are also at home. My mom and I have daily FaceTime calls, just to check up on each other. I also belong to several chat groups that keep me connected with my hobby groups.

2. GO OUTSIDE AND EXERCISE

There is something about fresh air and being outside, even if it’s just in your backyard, rooftop or a balcony. When you are inside all day and night, you can start to feel hemmed in and anxious. Go for a walk, enjoy your morning coffee on the porch, have that conference call on the deck with the trees in the background. Eat lunch outside somewhere.

There is something about doing some form of exercise that helps combat anxiety about being alone. Maybe it’s the goals, or maybe it’s the chemicals the body produces when you exercise. There are hundreds of “in-home” workouts, and even celebrities have gotten into posting their workout tips/videos from home.

3. CONSIDER ADOPTING A PET OR STARTING A NEW HOBBY

This one depends on your present circumstances. However, having a pet is one way of combatting loneliness. Having a dog for example, forces you out of the house a few times a day, just for bathroom walks. Cats like to lay in your lap, or on your desk, usually right in front of your laptop screen. For many single people, pets are an essential part of their lives.

Secondly, this may be the time to start a new project or learn a new skill.  There are dozens of videos on any subject you can imagine. Have you always wanted to learn how to sew a hemline? There’s a video for that, actually, there are several thousand. How about learning to bake? YouTube has you covered.  If you already have a hobby, maybe you want to learn more about it, or try your hand at something new.

In conclusion, dear reader, we are truly never alone, though we may feel loneliness at times. However, we serve a God of love, peace, and joy! As Nehemiah writes:

“You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you”

Nehemiah 9:6 (NIV)

Keep your spirits up, keep safely home and remember this too will pass.

Download our PDF of three takeaways from this article to share with your friends and family.

Have you read other articles in this series? Titles include “To The Student…”, “To The High School/College Senior…”, “To The Fearful…”, “To The Onlooker…”, “To the Parent…” and “To the Disheartened…”, “To the Unemployed…”, and “To the Teacher…”

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Major Jason Swain serves as the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at The Salvation Army National Headquarters in the Publications Department. Major Jason has served as a corps officer (pastor), Assistant Youth Secretary, Finance Officer and a staff officer at the Evangeline Booth College. He also volunteers at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, bringing his love of history to life.

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