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Loneliness and Finding Connection

loneliness_3398563204A while back I met with a mentor to talk about a then-current relationship I was in. I remember confessing to him how afraid I was…

Nothing was wrong with her or our relationship, in fact everything was amazing. I was just afraid. Afraid that I’ll get hurt, wounded, or that eventually things wouldn’t work out. It was the fear that eventually she might see me the way I then saw myself… And so out of fear I ended the relationship.

I ended the relationship because it felt easier and safer to hide in the shadows of isolation.

For me, I didn’t see the relationship as a opportunity for love, but rather as a possibility for abandonment. Why? Because like all of us I have been hurt, I’ve experienced the pain of being abandoned by a father, and didn’t want to experience a pain like that again. I say this because, I made the mistake of projecting someone else’s actions onto our current situation. I think this is what many of us unintentionally do…

It’s a weird feeling as to how many of us are found oscillating between our need for attachment, and our fear of rejection. Desperately wanting to be in a relationship, but because of our past hurt, we simultaneously desire to remain in isolation. We end up guarding ourselves not only from ever being hurt, but from ever being loved.

The thing is, the path to healing can’t happen when we choose isolation; it can only become a reality within the environment of safe, healthy, interpersonal relationships.

I think Marina Keegan spoke for us all saying, “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

Is that not what we all want, this supposed, “opposite of loneliness”?

If so, why is it that so many of us find ourselves to be lonely?

In a time that we have never been more technologically advanced than now, allowing us to connect to someone half way around the world, communicating to anyone at any point how is it that loneliness is still so pervasive? 

Here’s my theory:

Loneliness is so pervasive because of fear, because we’re afraid.

At some point in time each and every one of us was convinced that who we are is not enough. That who we are is unacceptable. So then in consequence who we present ourselves to be, is not representative of who we actually are. And so we find ourselves lonely, why? Because nobody we “know” actually know’s us. All they know is the person in which we’ve convinced them we are.

We are made to be so afraid and convinced that who we are is not enough that we pretend to be someone we’re not.

Which leaves us with the million dollar question: 

How then do we find connection?

It’s simple, you be who you are.

Simple, but we all know it’s far from easy. This is why Ralph Waldo Emerson is famously quoted saying, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

It’s a double edged sword: On one side, we crave connection so badly we’re willing to become someone in which we’re not. But, ironically, on the other side we are finding that when we become someone we’re not, though we might have 3,000 Facebook friends, in real life we have 0 actual friends. 

It’s the choice between loneliness and connection. Yet because of this lie in which we’ve bought into, we have been convinced to choose loneliness.

I want to be honest, this is not just a risk of getting hurt someday. It’s an absolute guarantee that you will get hurt, I mean really hurt.

How do I know this? Because it’s life, and life is a war, it’s a fight, it’s a battle, and when you step onto that field, into the arena, you’re going to get hit. Some hits will be worse then others, and some hits will take longer to recover from, but after each hit you’re going to get up, why?

Because it’s the choice between loneliness and connection, and we all want connection.
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photo credit: ro_buk [I’m not there] via photopin cc

Gill-AndyANDY GILL is currently studying theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. He has no clue what he wants to do after that, but for now he pretty much lives in the library & Starbucks.  His goal is to challenge the status quo of Christianity, and to encourage the church towards living an authentic, biblical faith, loving our neighbors, acknowledging the poor, and going out and making disciples, all while considering that not all of Christianity is meant to be lived so safely, comfortably, and securely.

Andy blogs at AndyGill.org, and you can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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