Loneliness Can Be Cured
THE telephone rang. “Hello. This is your listener,” answered a seventy-one-year-old retired schoolteacher. The woman at the other end explained: “I’m a widow living in this house alone. I was so lonesome tonight I had to talk to someone.” This woman had called a special telephone service entitled “Dial-a-Listener.”
Loneliness has become such a severe problem today that Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Paul Tournier called it “the most devastating malady of the age.” Young and old alike suffer from loneliness, and the effects of it can truly be devastating. Loneliness can slow down recovery from illness, hasten senile mental deterioration in elderly people and even bring about untimely death in some cases.
Why has loneliness become such a problem in a world experiencing a “population explosion“? What can be done to cure this “devastating malady“?
What Causes Loneliness?
There is a difference between loneliness and being alone. Nearly everyone enjoys occasional periods of solitude. The Bible shows that Jesus Christ sometimes sought out a “lonely place” in order to pray or to “rest up a bit” with his disciples. (Matt. 14:13; Mark 1:35; 6:31) Some individuals spend a good deal of their time alone and yet do not feel lonely.
Then, too, everyone feels lonely on occasion. Psychiatrist Theodore I. Rubin commented about feelings of loneliness: “It is a fact of life that these feelings will come and go. Not accepting this fact, expecting to live in a constant state of euphoria [well-being], will only result in disappointment or bitterness.”
But, in spite of this, chronic loneliness does afflict many people. In some cases parents may be at fault. Why so? Psychologist Allan Fromme explains: “Many parents, unable to relate to each other, create an atmosphere which fosters the same attitudes in their children.”
Life in large cities, where many experience limited, impersonal relationships with others, is another reason for loneliness. Determination to be rich can contribute to this feeling, too, causing a person to become overly concerned with his possessions and to withdraw from others.
Geographical isolation from familiar surroundings due to sickness, old age, a special assignment of activity or any other reason can give rise to feelings of loneliness. Other reasons for loneliness may be loss of sight or hearing or inability to understand the local language.
Loneliness Can Be Cured—How?
What can be done to cure loneliness? One thing is to realize that too much time spent alone can cause a person to withdraw into himself, becoming self-centered. (Prov. 18:1) Make it a habit to enjoy regular association with others. But just being among people will not cure loneliness. Some of the loneliest individuals in the world live in crowded cities.
Is the answer to be found, then, in marriage and raising a family? Not necessarily. Psychiatrist Rubin writes: “Many of the loneliest women in the world are women who are married.” Allan Fromme explained that a person “could be just as lonely if he were surrounded by a family.”
Loneliness can be cured only by developing a relationship with others. How can a person accomplish that?
The Word of God contains a fine principle at Philippians 2:3, 4: “Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead.”—The Jerusalem Bible.
When a person becomes lovingly interested in others, some are sure to reciprocate. Jesus assured: “With the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.” (Luke 6:38) This means that the lonely person must take the initiative to do things for others. Would not a visit to some other lonely person lift his spirits and yours too? What better way to chase loneliness away from yourself than to do so for someone else?
The worship of Jehovah God is the surest way to cure loneliness. No matter how uncomfortable circumstances may become, God’s servants are never alone. They know that “Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart.” (Ps. 34:18) Because Jehovah is the “Hearer of prayer” the Scriptures extend to lonely ones the invitation to “throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—Ps. 65:2; 1 Pet. 5:7.
The lives of Jehovah’s witnesses include many things that help one to avert loneliness. They regularly communicate with Jehovah God in prayer, with one another at meetings, and spend much time in helping their neighbors to learn about God and his purposes. The united activity of Jehovah’s witnesses causes them to have deep interest in one another too. They agree with the observation of the apostle Paul about Christians: “We . . . are one body . . . , members belonging individually to one another.” (Rom. 12:5) A woman from South Carolina tells of her first visit to a Kingdom Hall:
“I can remember the first meeting I attended and how the love of these Christian witnesses radiated throughout the congregation. After the meeting they would stand around and discuss what we had just heard and other Bible truths. . . . For the first time in my life I have peace of mind and a close relationship with my Creator.”
Yes, loneliness can be cured. But to do so one must take the initiative to develop a relationship with others, especially with Jehovah God. Would you like to do this? Jehovah’s witnesses will be glad to help you. You are cordially invited to attend meetings at their Kingdom Hall. If you wish, a qualified person will conduct a free Bible study with you at your home or at any other convenient location. Loneliness need never afflict you again.