After watching an incredible video interview on the effects of loneliness inside our culture and the art of belonging, I grabbed my phone and started writing my thoughts about this discovery. Not only have I experienced this phenomenon, I've sat with many who share the effects that loneliness has on their lives.
Loneliness has been found to be one of the No. 1 cultural struggles we're dealing with today. When we go without food, we're instinctively warned by our body we need nutrition. The same with a lack of water; our body tells us to get hydrated. Pain is an indicator for something inside of us needing medical attention. Loneliness is our barometer for a need of social interaction. We're living in a time where many are more connected than ever before. Think about it: When has there ever been a time where so many people--acquaintances, strangers, family and friends--all know about your life. Social media makes this possible. Yet, with such extreme sharing, we're discovering loneliness has actually increased excessively in our culture.
There are many places in our society where the goal has been to bring people closer together, but the reality of it is that these efforts actually created an even stronger effect on loneliness.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of art when combating loneliness. When I went through one of my deepest journeys of loneliness, music was the most vital form of combating it. Also, I'd never painted anything in my life. But during this same season, I began to paint and draw and discovered that this outlet of creativity did something amazing for these moments and seasons of extreme loneliness. The beauty of art gave me connection to the intimacy I was lacking.
I started making a list of where people find the thought of creating connection, when in reality, inside these venues loneliness is at an all-time high: dating sites, social media, mega churches, corporate America, coffee houses, high-performance work stations.
I heard the word "belonging" for the first time in my life in 2013. It was expressed inside the thought of finding the one right person to do life with. I was skeptical of this definition. I did my own searching for where this word fits into my life. As a Christian, this word rings loudly how I BELONG to God. That at the end of the day I have a Belonging with him that supersedes any other relationship I’m searching for. My discovery through extreme loneliness led me to my wilderness experience in Whitney, Texas, in 2016. That’s where I realized that to escape the captivity of loneliness, I had to learn the art of being alone. Inside that discovery, I found my belonging was impeccably connected to the intimacy I share with God. And wow!!! What happened then was I was completely alone and my loneliness lifted. I learned the art of being alone inside belonging.
Obviously I don’t know all the reasons or answers to solve the mystery of why loneliness is a growing struggle within our society. I have my observations and ideas toward this outcome, however, at the end of the day I only am a person who also has experienced this place and observed it happening to others.
When I feel like I’m chasing the wind for a solution, I go back to what I discovered in 2016. The art and beauty of finding the intimacy that exists when we can be alone and at the same time find fulfillment inside of our own worth and value. That’s when I have found relief for not only the emotion of loneliness but the incredible fulfillment of unconditional love and acceptance.
I’m grateful for my circle of people with whom I draw belonging from. Those with flesh on. We each need this group. Our inner circle. It’s within our own belonging and our belonging with others who care about who we are that loneliness is quenched.