Do You Reach Out to Lonely Persons?
“I LIVE alone, but I’m far from lonely. I have all the friends I want. I like my privacy,” wrote a successful retired businesswoman in a letter that appeared in many leading newspapers. She continued: “One evening about 7:30, there was a knock on my door. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so I asked who was there. It was a widow who lives on my floor, and with whom I had only a nodding acquaintance. She said she was ‘lonely’ and didn’t know what to do with herself, and asked if she could come in and visit for a while.
“I told her politely but bluntly that I was busy . . . she apologized for bothering me and left. . . . I felt quite proud of myself for not getting trapped by a bore who would probably be difficult to get rid of. The next evening a friend telephoned to ask if I knew the woman in my building who had committed suicide the night before. If you have already guessed that she was the woman who knocked on my door, you are right.”
How shocking! The experience illustrates the need to reach out to lonely persons and follow the Bible counsel to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thess. 5:14) But how? What is needed is human compassion, genuine friendship. They need you there. Often your mere presence is of far greater value than your counsel.
One 16-year-old who tried to kill herself by jumping in front of a car said pleadingly: “I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted someone to pay attention to me.” Her comments show how little is needed to aid some lonely people. Oftentimes a mere word, a few minutes of conversation, something to let them know that you realize they are there, is all that is needed. Do you give of yourself in this way?
Most of us have regular contact with groups of people, either on a daily or on a weekly basis. Here there are opportunities to fellowship and to converse with many different individuals. By seeking out those who appear shy or backward, you may be able to encourage those that are lonely.
Also, why not include lonely individuals in your moments of relaxation? There may be times when it is convenient to invite them to your home or to share in some social gathering. Have them over, not merely because you feel sympathy for them, but because you realize that these ones have much to contribute if such resources are tapped.
By thus reaching out to others you will be showing a genuine concern for those who are struggling with loneliness. And you will be putting to work in your own life that grand principle of living set out by Jesus Christ when he said: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.”—Luke 6:31.