by David Sisler
If this were a perfect world, your boss would give you a raise without your having to ask, and it would be more than you expected.
If this were a perfect world, chocolate would contain no calories.
If this were a perfect world, your teenagers would rather clean their rooms and mow the lawn than watch TV or talk on the telephone.
If this were a perfect world, you'd get into your car for a long trip, the kids would say, "Wake us when we get to Grandma's," and promptly fall asleep.
If this were a perfect world, no one would ever be lonely.
To be alone is not the same thing as to be lonely. Friends can cure aloneness, but what is the cure for loneliness? You can be surrounded by crowds of people, even friends, and be lonely.
Janice was a music teacher. Having her own child as a student, she said, made it a lonely job. One day her son asked if he could have a pencil. As a teacher, she did not lend items to unprepared students. As a mother, she wanted to help her child. With an attempt at Solomon-like wisdom she asked, "Anthony, are you speaking to your teacher or your mother?"
He replied, "It depends on who has the pencil."
There are times when we all need solitude. But solitude is different from loneliness. There are times when we need to withdraw from the rigors of life as we are living it and rest, just rest. Solitude is often searched for. Loneliness never is.
It is frightening to feel a twinge of loneliness and to know that there is no one to share the emptiness. One of the greatest fears of the elderly is loneliness. One of the leading causes of suicide is loneliness. Who knows how many emotional disorders could be directly linked to loneliness?
Edie Clark described for Yankee magazine her observations during a lunar eclipse. Late one night she took a flashlight and walked to a narrow wooden dock where she kept a rowboat. Part of her husband's battle against the cancer that took his life was the refinishing of that boat.
Now as midnight, and a total eclipse of the moon approached, she rowed alone to the middle of the lake. From the shore around her she could hear the sounds of voices and radios and televisions begin to fade and then grow silent as darkness pushed itself across the face of the moon.
Finally, only a thin crescent of light remained. The moon, once a glistening yellow, was now blood-red. And then the moon was dark, completely dark. Moments passed and then a sliver of light appeared on the other side of the moon. Gradually the light of the moon reappeared.
Edie's thoughts had been about her husband and about her loneliness. As she watched the light return, she thought, "I knew then why I had come. Not to see the earth go dark, but to see the light come back again."
The night before He died, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away. And in that room, surrounded by friends, twelve men were suddenly very lonely. Jesus understood that and so He said to them, "Let not your hearts be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3).
Before Jesus returned to heaven, He gathered a group of believers around Him and made this fantastic promise: "I am with you always. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you."
You may be enveloped in loneliness. It may be very dark right now where you are. Your joy and happiness may have been totally eclipsed, but the light will return. This world is not a perfect world, but the next one is. Jesus promised!
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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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