Loneliness (Notes for Wed 10/26/2011)
Sermon Series: One
Sermon Title: Loneliness
Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3rd ed.
· A painful inner feeling of emptiness everyone experiences at times. It is an awareness that one lacks close and meaningful contact with others. It involves a painful feeling of isolation, and sadness and a deep desire to connect with others.
· May last for a short time or persist throughout life.
· Impacts people of all ages.
· Highest in cultures that emphasize individualism.
· Occurs frequently in single adults living alone, elderly people who have lost a spouse, parents without partners, or people away from home including students. Leaders are especially susceptible to loneliness.
· People may feel lonely even when they are surrounded by other people, especially when there is tension. When surrounded by others, lonely people feel as if they are left out, unwanted, rejected, or misunderstood. Lonely people are often down on themselves, have a poor self image and feel as if no one wants them.
· Lonely people often feel uncertain about how to reach out or initiate close contact with others.
Types of Loneliness
· Transient – due to a move, separation, disagreement, or death. May last for a few minutes or a few months.
· Chronic – may be due to self-image, self-condemnation, shyness, or insensitive social skills that drive others away.
The Bible and Loneliness
· God declared that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). God exists in community as Father, Son, and Spirit. Because man is created in the image of God, he too is a relational being. Man can not only relate to God but he also relates to others. When sin entered creation through Adam and the woman’s rebellion, we see separation, hiding, and a lack of communication. This is the time when loneliness entered into fallen creation.
· We see loneliness in many of the Bible’s greatest heroes such as Moses, Job, Nehemiah, Elijah, and Jeremiah.
· David expressed loneliness in Psalm 25:16.
· Jesus called out to God and asked, “Why have you forsaken me (Matt. 27:46)?”
· In 2 Timothy 4:9ff Paul expressed feelings of forsakenness and his desire for companionship.
Causes of Loneliness
1. Social Causes – loneliness caused by social changes or factors
a. Technology – life has become increasingly fast paced with less and less face to face interaction.
b. Television – promotes superficiality as people are no longer forced to communicate but only passively witness the actions of others on screen.
c. Mobility – the ability for people to move easily makes it difficult to develop long lasting relationships.
d. Lifestyle – American culture is becoming increasingly fearful and less connected. Very few people know their neighbors.
2. Developmental Causes – the failure to meet the following three needs during the developmental years:
a. Attachment – all people, but especially children need to feel close bonds with others. With increasing divorce rates and man children returning home to empty houses loneliness is increasing in young people.
b. Acceptance – children need loving touch, attention, and discipline. When they are neglected they feel worthless or as if they do not belong. These sorts of feelings may be present in adults who do not feel accepted in business or social settings.
c. Social Skills – People with low levels of inter-personal relationship skills may be socially awkward or force themselves into relationships. Often those with underdeveloped social skills will place relational value in material things rather than in people.
3. Psychological Causes – the way people think about themselves or others may contribute to loneliness.
a. Self-defeating attitudes – competitiveness, self-absorption, being intolerant, holding grudges, or demanding attention from others.
b. Low self-esteem – low opinions of self may lead one to withdraw from others.
c. Depression – many depressed people withdraw from others.
d. Hostility – people who are angry, negative, or easily agitated are often isolated.
e. Fear – may construct barriers to keep others out whether it be fear of rejection, intimacy, or of being known.
4. Situational – A life situation such as a physical handicap or caring for an aging parent may create a situation in which relationships are difficult.
5. Spiritual – Sin naturally alienates us from God and others.
Confronting and Preventing Loneliness
Because loneliness is most often an inner struggle or feeling, one’s circumstances may not be the primary cause. One’s circumstances may be as they are because of one’s expressions of loneliness. Therefore, loneliness is most often cured by dealing with the inner feelings and changing one’s perceptions, outlook, and improving social skills.
1. Admit the problem.
2. Consider the causes.
3. Change thinking.
4. Develop self-esteem and an accurate self image by assessing strengths, skills, and weaknesses.
5. Learn new behaviors and social skills.
6. Find avenues of encouragement and risk taking such as reaching out to others.
7. Meeting spiritual needs.
8. Join a church community.
9. Find confidants who can help with change.
10. Build confidence by making contributions to community.
11. Begin a journey of spiritual growth and accountability.