As I sit down to write this post, the time is 12:51 am. This time holds no significance except that it is generally a time when people sleep in preparation for the burdens of tomorrow. Humorously, this conception is limited to the enviroment that I am accustom to. While half the world goes to sleep, the other half is rising to conduct the neccessities of the day. How unperceptive of me! This is not uncommon, we, generally, speak and relate things according to our experiences, disregarding anything that we cannot account for. Yet, as I sit at my desk to write this post, there are those working or travelling through the night. If the time does not carry significance, why bring it up? I’m glad I begged the question for you to follow! I’m certain that many of us, if not all of us, have spent some measurable hours of the night pondering upon our thoughts, reflecting of the day that has come before, churning over problems we face, or restlessly feeling the weight of our emotions. Tonight is one of those nights for me, when I ought to attempt to be sleeping, but I have need to process what I am feeling, or, more accurately, thinking.
Being in my twenties is difficult. I’m sure most people in my age would attest to that as fact. Transitioning from childhood to adulthood is rather difficult and unguided. While I can point to our current education systems’ failures to properly perpare us for the adult world, this is not the focus of my writing tonight. Upon graduating high school, an era of transition begins where the lives we know are transitioned into the unknown. Most go off to universities, most go off into jobs, most continue upon the path that so many before them have tread. When I graduated, I had no idea where to go or what to do. Life as I knew it, as a means of habit or schedule, ceased to be. My close circle of friends left for university life, I aged out of my youth group leaving me unplugged, I had no means to attend college, and spent months searching for a place of work. I was stuck, left behind as everyone else seemed to leave, at least as it appeared to me. Some of these issues, such as the employment, can be attributed to the economy of the time that was still struggling to recover from the recession and housing market crash of 2008. I felt abandoned by society, by people. The lessons or philosphy taught to us throughout grade school was that by getting good grades we’d get into good universities later. Even with good grades, I did not qualify for any means by which to afford furthuring my education. The only “scholarships” I was offered were parental loans, which was not going to float. The last thing I or my family needed was more debt. Looking back, I was disadvantaged before graduating and I would be greatly more disadvantaged had I taken a loan. I realize that this is a lot of background before I’ve even reached my purpose in writing, but please hang in there with me. I promise I’m getting to the main idea. Perhaps the better means of describing the twenties is tumultuous.
With life in college being so tumultuous, one would believe that churches would have ministries reaching out. Unfortunately, as I experienced first hand, once you graduate high school there is not much for you. The community that you spent years with was gone, almost taken away. The roots grown are torn apart from you. I do not want to criticize the Church for not having a ministry for college aged individuals, but it is a necessity. This poses a serious problem as to who is going to reach out to college students? If the Church doesn’t, the World will. Especially in universities where sin and darkness are prevalent. Universities may very well be the mission field the Church needs to focus on! Yet, that is a matter for another day. Thus I approach my purpose in writing this, during this time I was lonely. I was lost. I was afraid. Even now, several years later, I still feel lonely. Loneliness is a terrible feeling, and the emotions that come with are even more difficult to bear. And so I recognize this. I recognize that across the world there are those like me, then and now, who feel the woes of loneliness. Those who spend the late hours of the night crying out for someone, anyone, to reach out to them, to include them. Obviously there are different kinds of loneliness. Some, like I, search for belonging, to be wanted, to been needed, to be loved. Too many times, we look to the wrong places to fill this need, this desire. Many times this longing is accompanied and multiplied by the agony of depression. I can recall two major depressions in my life which I have detailed above. I’ve attempted to write about depression and loneliness on many occasions in the last six months, but I’ve always been stymied from conveying both my thoughts and emotions in and around the subject. Tonight, I must admit, felt the heavy burden of loneliness.
I am a rather introverted individual. I am a deep thinker. I am a reflector. I think and process inwardly within the recesses of my mind. I am unsure if I’ve ever actually addressed this publicly, but when I’ve been depressed and lonely, not all of my thoughts are my own. Questions like ‘why me’ are not illogical, but questions like ‘what’s wrong with me’ come out of left field like a pop fly that’s been lost in the sun until it enviably lands on my head. There is nothing logical or logistical about the correlation between my thoughts and feelings when I’m in this state. Having some background in the study of psychology, I am aware that this is a result of chemical imbalances within the mind. Yet I do not believe that that answers the entirety of the causes of depression (more on that later). Most times when I feel depressed it lasts for a few hours, a day, or week. It does not appear consistently, but when it does it is miserable. Dealing, or coping (I dislike the connotation of that word in this instance), with depression usually comes down to distraction. Distraction by means of television, movies, music, video games, books, anything to temporarily offset the overwhelming feelings of emptiness, restlessness, unworthiness. For myself this is drastically amplified when I do not like I fit in, or don’t belong. Loneliness and depression is anything but pretty or easy. It is insufferable and unbearable.
Fortunately, I do not always feel this way. And even now, I have not been in a state of depression as severe as the one I’ve been discussing since. However, as you may have correctly guessed, I am following this up with a cliched qualifying ‘but.’ But now I still feel out of place, alone, even forgotten. Growing up, before and after high school, I was hardly invited to things. If I was, it was usually due to my siblings who are close to my age, or at least that is how I understand it to be. I do not get many text messages or phone calls from people apart from logistical things. My inbox is not filled with long engaging conversations, my phone is hardly buzzing with new messages. This is not intended to be a pity piece, or ‘woe is me.’ Perhaps this is my fault for lack of initiation on my behalf, but that cannot be all of it. Maybe I do not fall into most people’s immediate concern. Part of me also understands, because we are all incredibly busy these days. With school, work, and extra-social requirements that keep most of our attentions occupied. I also understand what little time we have for social upkeep is limited and reserved. I’m very far from being a social butterfly, but I cannot keep from asking myself ‘what is wrong with me that people don’t like’ or ‘what is it about me that people do not include me.’ I highly doubt that I’m being excluded. I’m positive that there is not some committee of people who are dead set on excluding me, but if I’m wrong, ‘Hello guys!’ Jokes aside, these thoughts are irrational and inexplicable. If I could use a genie in a bottle and wish them away I would! Even now there are nights when I try to sleep, but end up tossing and turning endlessly without any relief in sleep. There are night when I stay up until I am too tired to feel such feelings before I pass out for a couple hours. As I said, there is nothing good about these feelings. Although, feeling is not the most adequate or correct way to describe it. It is not a feeling, but you feel it. It’s not a though, but you think it. It’s not a state of mind, but you’re in it. It is awful no matter how you slice it.
If I have and do feel these things, as a believer, what do others in the world feel? What does it say about the Church when we should be the first place people who are lost, lonely, and broken should or could turn to? It was devastating to lose the foundation and community I had in my youth group. I was lost. There is no better way to describe it. Even as a believer, I was lost. This is what baffled me the most, how could I not have a place of intimate community within the Church? Should I have been on some university campus I would have community there, but I wasn’t. College students and campuses may very well be the largest unengaged mission field in America. Speaking from my personal experience, I can attest to the importance of community in an age of busyness, transition, and discovery. Despite the cliched statement that I some how typed out, loneliness and disconnection plagues people the world over. Even in my own writing, it is difficult for me to separate the personal reflection and the personal analysis. That inward deep thinking is not something that I can easily turn off. So, having shared a personal reflection of my experiences, however brief, of loneliness and depression, I will explore the analytical components of loneliness. Exploring such thoughts as ‘If God loves me like the Bible says, why do I still feel lonely,’
Thank you for reading.