I’m writing this after watching the 15th Episode of the 3rd Season of “Modern Family” and after reading “For the love of money” a text by Sam Polk in the New York Times, which I got sent by a good friend of mine. I don’t know why I’m telling you this; I guess it’s sort of like a reference or something… Anyway!
Isn’t it funny how loneliness is one of those things nobody wants to talk about? Well, it’s true that it’s weird to just be like “I feel lonely man” to a friend or a person who care about you; and it’s totally understandable that in societies like Burundi where success correlates with the number of friends or acquaintances that one has we prefer to go along pretending to be fulfilled when deep down we’re just, well… lonely! And nobody ever warns anybody about that feeling of loneliness; instead we prefer to tell people that we “understand” what they are going through and that we’ll “be there for them”. But loneliness is inevitable. We may not admit it, but we’ve all felt and will feel lonely multiple times in our lives… and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Even Jesus Christ – the man who is supposed to inspire us all – felt lonely multiple times throughout his life; or so I would assume. Like when he was 12 years old and his parents scolded him for staying behind in Jerusalem – I can only imagine how he must have felt when the people who were supposed to know him best, first of all travelled for a whole day without noticing his absence, then couldn’t seem to understand that he needed to be there, in “his Father’s house”… Or when his mother asked him to do something about the finished wine at the wedding of Canaan and he was like “woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.” Although he ended up doing what his mother needed him to do, I sometimes feel like he may have only done it out of respect for her. Like he didn’t want to embarass her. Then there was the time, on the cross, when he called out: “ELI! ELI! LAMA SABACHTANI!” (Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?)… Yes, Jesus felt lonely too!
For a long time I thought it was wrong to feel lonely. First because it felt selfish; like I was treating all the people who are “here for me” like they aren’t good enough. But then as I grew older (and wiser, I guess) I realised that some the people who are supposed to care about us have funny and weird ways of showing their love – like wanting us to do things their way, like they know better and without any regard for how we feel. Like Joseph asking Jesus what the *** he was still doing in a synagogue three days later; or Mary asking him (of course he had to listen to his mother) to do something about the lack of wine like he had anything to do with it – technically, he was just a guest. I’m not saying that Joseph and Mary did wrong; all I’m saying is that they pushed the boy; and being pushed is one of the main things that make us feel lonely.
Responsibility often comes with that feeling of loneliness, but people always seem to forget about that. We often forget to mention how lonely it feels when the whole World expects more from us than it is giving back, and when it takes us through the cr*p and expects us to smile back and “take the lemons to make lemonade”. Somehow we often believe that there will always be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a mentor or a counsellor to talk to and help us feel better, but the reality is that even God turned his face away from his perfect son while he was hanging on the cross for sins he hadn’t committed… because God cared about the other people… Take a moment and ask yourself how you would feel if your father seemed to care more about a random person than about you. How do you feel when the people who are supposed to be there for you are the ones who make you feel lonely? Don’t tell me this has only happened to me…
Life has taught me that feeling lonely isn’t the end of the World. If anything, it has ‘grown me up’. It teaches me to question the motives behind my decisions and to question why I need some people in my life: is it for me (selfish reasons) or for them? But above all, feeling lonely has helped me realise that nothing and nobody will ever fulfill me but Jesus. You may be reading this being an atheist or something, but this is my truth. You know, I’m not going to lie that He’s there holding my hand when I feel down, but the simple fact of knowing that He – a God – also had to deal with loneliness and got through it is comforting. Not that I think I have the powers of a God [i.e. I can be as strong as Him], but you know, to me it means that feeling lonely isn’t just something for the “weak”.
One other thing that loneliness has taught me is that sometimes people just need to be left alone. There are a few people in my life for whom I care about so much I sometimes feel I could go “to the moon and back” just to make them happy, but I’ve realised that sometimes we all need our private space to deal with our sh*t alone… or with Jesus for that matter. Not earlier than today, one of those people told me that they don’t want to depend on me, a feeling which I respect and encourage, although it hurts a little when a person you love denies your help.
The bottom of the line is: loneliness is a healthy feeling when dealt with… healthily. It helps one to become less dependent on people and on things, and more dependent on God. But it also helps one appreciate people and life a bit more.
And this is the part where I have nothing else to say…