Over the years, I have learned that a marriage relationship can fill one of the deepest longings we have as human beings or be the loneliest place on earth, even with children. When I feel isolated, I do not feel free to move about.
Our family schedule has slowed down now that summer break is behind us. In years past, taking care of kids did not afford me the luxury of feeling alone, but I did feel moments of isolation and more lonely then I care to admit.
If you have ever lost a loved one, a family member, or a best friend, even a pet then you know the sound of loneliness is deafening even in a crowd.
Do you battle with loneliness? Contrary to popular opinion, one can still know God, be successful, and feel lonely. There are no dirty words nor judgments here.
Some of my most favorite comedians, songwriters, travel show hosts, all well-respected people, have died very suddenly while in depression and isolation over the years.
Recently, my wife and I had an opportunity to speak with compassionate small group leaders on the topic of building relationships in community. We shared some alarming statistics from Duke University and US Census:
- 27.2 million people live alone.
- More people say they feel alone than at any other time.
- 25 percent say they have no one to turn to as a confidant.
- More people link their depression to loneliness.
- The number of “socially isolated” Americans has doubled since 1985.
Dustin Willis said in his book, Life in Community:
“Not only are more people physically living alone, they are becoming emotional lone rangers. Since they have no one to turn to, they seek the individualistic dreams that ultimately cripple human flourishing and societal progress.”
Rick Warren said, “Isolation exists because we have a culture that feeds on individualism. The fruit of rampant individualism in our culture is massive loneliness.”
I don’t know about you, but after just hearing the research, I felt like I had to take a shower to wash away the sadness. Ugh!
I believe Jesus was abandoned for our adoption into His family. He guides us into a new kingdom, where we belong as citizens and family members with God as the Father.
The same Jesus who said, “..My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” also said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
If my desire as a husband and father is to build my marriage and family on a foundation of faith, hope, and love, then I’ve gotta ask for intimate counsel on how to address it. I believe no one on earth is immune to loneliness, not even Jesus.
As a husband and father, I have noticed selfishness and isolation permeates our culture and desires to pounce on my children. You think I’m gonna take it lying down?
Loneliness needs to be addressed in my home. We decide whether loneliness is allowed to enter our hearts or homes.
So where can we start?
The opposite of loneliness is a sense of belonging. And believe it or not, I think this key is hidden deep within God’s creation of marriage and family. It’s said that marriage is a signpost.
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. (Eph 5:31-32)
The cure for loneliness is found not only in Christ, but in the community He creates. The first and last community God created was the family.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household. (Eph 2:19)
I’m not just talking about a group of very nice people. I’m talking about a family bound by a blood oath to fight for freedom!
I’ll end with this story.
One evening this week my son was having an off day. He was tired from first week back to school, hit is head against a door, jammed his fingers in another, and our dog ate a sandwich I made for him (I make a mean sandwich). 🙂
After taking enough he simply lays down on the floor and weeps in pain. As we help him, I mention to the rest of our family that we need to pray because the enemy is messing with my son and this has got to stop.
Suddenly, I hear my youngest daughter bark like a dog then yell what sounds like, “YIBAMBE!” She says it again over and over loudly like she is in her own world. I didn’t understand at first.
At an early age, my daughter has learned to think mythically, and taking from movies like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War she has created a battle cry when she prays and fights against her enemy. #winning
As we put him to bed, my son calmed down and realized his family has got his back. You see, even without fully realizing our potential, our family walks with purpose and a powerful love that casts out isolation and loneliness! How cool is that?!