“At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others,” says young Nick Carraway in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Amid the excitement of a new life in New York, Carraway yet observes so many “poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner—young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.”
A haunting loneliness. Fitzgerald’s description written in 1925 could easily translate to our times: to lonely, anonymous people bustling through shopping malls, office buildings, and grocery stores; to neighbors entering and exiting homes via garage doors, never interacting with those living in close proximity; to a culture abuzz with social networking yet spiraling into everincreasing isolation. Carraway saw it in those around him and he felt it himself. Do you see it? Do you feel it?
Loneliness is becoming an epidemic in our culture, often exacerbated by the very technology we create to connect. It’s not just hurting our feelings; as Jessica Olien reports in Slate.com, it’s also having costly effects on our health, even leading to a significantly increased risk of premature death.
So how can we deal with loneliness when we face it? How can we help the lonely around us? In this issue of Today’s Christian Woman, we tackle this common and difficult struggle.
In “The Loneliness Epidemic,” Corrie Cutrer shines a spotlight on this pervasive trend, examining some of the factors that make it such a common experience even for Christians. How is it that believers can end up feeling so alone? With powerful insights from pastor John Ortberg, author Erin Davis, and others, Corrie points us toward the factors in our lives that may lead toward loneliness and directs us to the hope we find in Christ.
But our understanding of the hope and comfort we find in Christ must be realistic, cautions Elisabeth Klein in her article “Uncoupled in a Coupled-Up World.” As a single woman dealing with loneliness after her divorce, Elisabeth shares frankly how Jesus provides significant companionship and spiritual hope—yet, she asserts, he does not magically erase the very real pain of loneliness many experience after a marriage falls apart. If you’ve gone through a divorce or have a loved one dealing with the pain of a failed marriage, Elisabeth’s article speaks words of empathy, hope, and truth.
One of the best comforts we can experience for loneliness is the companionship we experience in the body of Christ through our friendships with other believers. That’s why it can be especially painful when we feel isolated in church. How can we respond when we feel alone in a congregation peopled by families, couples, and groups of close friends? In “Feeling Alone at Church?” Camerin Courtney describes how being single and alone at church can actually become a positive thing. In her article, you can read how this experience of being alone has actually led to new friendships and deepened spiritual growth for Camerin.
Loneliness can sneak up on us in surprising ways, and for many women, that painful surprise is the loneliness that often accompanies leadership. Whether it’s leading at work, leading in a ministry, or taking on some other volunteer leadership role, it can certainly feel “Lonely at the Top.” In her article, MOPS CEO Sherry Surratt examines why loneliness is a burden often carried by leaders and provides wise insights into how to cope with the isolation that leadership can bring.
Loneliness can make us feel discouraged, weakened, and spiritually inert. So how can we connect with God when we feel so alone? And what if even God himself seems distant? In “When God Feels Far Away,” I delve into spiritual loneliness and share insights and ideas for ways we can draw strength from our God who is always with us—even when we cannot feel his presence.
When loneliness haunts us and hurts us—and, at times, it will—we can turn to the one who knows what it is to be misunderstood, rejected, abandoned, and alone. Christ himself is our remedy—and he is also our companion within experiences of loneliness.
Loneliness and God
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