Monday, January 28, 2013

The Hazards of Being Alone

Last week was daunting. My husband had told me, he was to travel on Friday and return on Sunday evening. As Friday night approached, there I was, home alone, at night with my baby. I just couldn't sleep, watched TV and read a bit (which maybe is the unwritten first rule for any situation in life, read yourself into the Place you want to be). I found myself scouring the pages for distractions from the dead silence. Then it hit me again, I was home alone. I tiptoed to my cold lonely bed and then I heard a peculiar sound. Yes! they have come! They know he is not around cos his car is not here! I am finished! Maybe it's a cat, or a wild leprechaun. O.k I'm sure you get the picture, I was scared and lonely.

But this is the reality, many single people fall into this category of home alone and loneliness. Many of them are relatively young; in their 20s, 30s or 40s, they have good jobs, good social skills, and they often have friends and acquaintances. Although Facebook and Twitter encourage us to think of ourselves as part of ‘networks’, the truth is that we've never been more alone. The fact that many people are alone and lonely has not, however, led to a wider discussion of the topic. Virtually everyone experiences loneliness from time to time, with many people becoming especially aware of feelings of loneliness around the holiday seasons or Valentine’s Day. Some of you might even be married and your husband works offshore or has any job that keeps him away, and you haven't started having kids yet, then you'll know all too well what I'm talking about.

We develop all sorts of coping mechanisms. Some join all the units in the church to keep them busy, some visit friends and family, and when they run out of those they go to cocktail parties, charity events and obligatory dinners. Some make long-term plans to rid them of loneliness that involve filling in the gaps with a significant other.

But in the absence of prayer circles, girly outings, football matches and the likes, how does one deal with loneliness? One has to ask herself, would I have gone to all of these places or been with these people if I were not alone? Not answering these questions honestly leave us with some very heavy consequences. You see a young girl dating a guy who is abusive and no matter how many times you talk to her she keeps going back because she is afraid of being alone. Or you hang out with friends who gossip and backbite even though you know that is not God's expectation of you.

If you are going to join any group, be it in your church or in your community, to combat loneliness this is fine. It automatically exposes you to a group of people who share at least one of your interests. It can also provide a sense of belonging that comes with being part of a group. This can stimulate creativity, give you something to look forward to as long as it is something you really put your heart into and enjoy. If not, don't bother. Becoming a volunteer for a cause you believe in, whether in church or elsewhere, can provide many benefits — meeting others, being part of a group, creating new experiences — and also brings the benefits of altruism, and can help you find more meaning in your life, both of which can bring greater happiness and life satisfaction, as well as providing you an importunity to bless others, thus decreasing loneliness. Additionally, working with others who have less can help you feel a deeper sense of gratitude for what you have in your own life. When I was a teenager, after doing all my chores on Saturday I would get bored, so I started visiting an orphanage in my area. It was emotional at first, but with time I looked forward to Saturdays, it was so much fun spending time with those kids.

Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never use a man or a woman to fill in the blanks. Never hope to find people who will understand you. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will fill in an emptiness you have inside, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, cultivate your relationship with God, know what it is that you want, and not let anything stand in your way.

1 Corinthians 7:32 - But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord. 
Ijeoma Olujekun

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