There's A Cure For Loneliness
I remember a holiday season when I found myself haunted by loneliness. I was not alone, simply overwhelmed by life and the sense that no one cared or noticed. I knew this was not the truth, yet I couldn’t overcome the feeling. Loneliness is not a choice.
One night, I forced myself to get out of the house. I went to Burlington Coat Factory and wandered aimlessly around the store. Normally, I don’t pay much attention to other shoppers but there were a couple of women there that night that caught my eye. They were standing near a bed display, trying to choose throw pillows to match the bedding. They had a pile of pillows on the floor all lined up for consideration. One by one, they would place a pillow on the bed, take a step back to get a good look, then shake their heads and toss the pillow over the other side of the bed. When they ran out of pillows, they would go to the aisle and get more. This went on for some time. They were having a great time, while making a huge mess. I watched from a distance until my attention was diverted to the woman working in the department. She moved very quickly, running all over the place, helping customers. As she passed through the aisles, she would grab items off the floor and place them on the shelf. She was like a human vacuum cleaner. Yet, it didn’t seem to help. The department was a disaster.
The store would be closing in an hour and it was clear, the sales clerk would be staying long after to clean up. My heart went out to her. Nonchalantly, I started picking things up and putting them on the shelf where they belonged. I worked my way up and down each aisle, taking care not to be noticed by other customers or store security, who seemed to have taken an interest in the department.
I became so enthralled with my new quest, I had forgotten about the women with the pillows. Until I started down the that aisle. I wondered if they were still there, if they ever found a pillow. As I came to the end of the aisle, I slowly peeked around the corner. They were nowhere in sight, the coast was clear. I couldn’t tell if they found a pillow, but there was no denying they left without cleaning up. It looked as if an entire aisle of pillows had been dumped on and around the display. They were everywhere. I couldn’t believe it. Did they not notice the woman working so hard? Were they blind or did they simply not care? This was no time to ponder such things, there was work to be done and only 20 minutes left to do it. Fortunately, security had left the area and the store woman had gone to the back to find something for a customer. I kicked it into high gear, picking up pillows as fast as humanly possible. Joy started to spring up in my heart.
I finished up just as they made the final announcement – The store is closing. Mission accomplished. As I headed towards the front of the store to leave, the store woman was returning to the department. Our eyes met as we passed each other, I gave her a big smile and she smiled back. We connected. I returned home with a renewed spirit of hope.
Prior to the pandemic it was reported that over 47% of adults in America suffer from loneliness. Now, with social distancing even more people are facing this battle. The holiday season can elevate feelings of loneliness too.
Loneliness is a serious emotional, physical and spiritual condition that can have life threatening consequences and it’s silently sweeping our nation, affecting the young and old. The good news – there’s a cure. It’s called love. We demonstrate it through connection. Simply reaching out to lonely people can give them the hope that they need to take the next step to engage with others.
More good news – We all can do something to fight loneliness in ourselves and others.
We often hear people asking, “Who needs help? What can I do?” So glad you asked.
Stop – It’s easy to miss what’s going on in others when we are busy. Stop and take some time to do a mind sweep of people you know, people in your community that may be alone during this time.
Look - There are people struggling with loneliness all around you – family members, co-workers, neighbors. It’s not always evident, you have to look for loneliness. Look for the person who has stopped returning calls, comments that they haven’t been out. Think about those you know who live alone. Seek and you will find.
Connect & Show love – Reach out in whatever way you can. Even something as small as a smile can make a difference. The goal is to connect, show others that you care about them and they matter. A phone call can be incredibly powerful. People need to hear a voice – possibly yours.
We’ve created a free download with some ways to Stop, Look, Connect & Show Love to those in need. See Free Downloads.
Let’s double down on loneliness as our response to COVID - everyday, everywhere, everyone.
We are the hands and feet of Christ!
Scripture – 1 John 3:18 - Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.