I know many of you have already read Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz which is why I don’t discuss too much of it here even though I’m reading it again with the group Rae and I are in that meets on Monday nights. However, this week we covered what seemed like the most depressing chapter of Blue Like Jazz: Alone, and I don’t think I got to flesh this subject matter out enough in our discussion so I thought I’d bring it up here.

Tony the Beat Poet says the words alone, lonely, and loneliness are three of the most powerful words in the English language. I agree with Tony.”

And I agree with Tony. Being a wildly extroverted person time spent “alone” is often frightening to me. Don Astronaut’s story would be my hell: alone, stranded, cut off, separated from people and God, left abandoned, not knowing the distinction between waking and dreaming because my hair had grown so thick it filled the inside of my space helmet leaving me basically blind and tasting my own hair! (Ironically, that is when I know it’s time to trim my mustache/goatee: when it curls past my lip and into my mouth…it’s just gross.) I crave interaction with others just as I crave food and drink and sleep. For me it identifies again that I am human and furthermore that community is healthy. It’s the answer to all my college friends who said that they were “spiritual enough by themselves and had no need of church.” Which in a sense of the idea I agreed with them. God is as real to me by my bedside as He is at church but the power of community, and especially a community where people’s intentions are to give glory to God and love one another is overwhelming and necessary. It cannot be achieved by yourself at your bedside.

It was brought up in our group that God had even said in the beginning that it was not good for man to be alone. And then I remembered a post that Joel had put up a while back asking “Why a talking snake didn’t freak Adam and Eve out of their naked skins?!?!” Could there have been other talking animals? I mean if we interpret the creation account, Adam had all those animals there before Eve popped up on the scene and had God in his midst and had many things already at his disposal so much that we might not have described him as being “alone.” Yet, in that state God said it was not good and He created a companion for Adam in Eve.

It has me asking the question, “Who is alone around me?” Who do I know that is indeed alone by every sense of the word? Who do I know that I may not describe as being in a state of isolation but is lonely? I fear loneliness causes us to become crippled. Crippled by fear, pride, misunderstanding, resentment, bitterness, and ultimately traps us in our own personal hell without even knowing why or how we got there.

If loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell,…

I think that’s the answer: loving other people.
Unfortunately, love can be awkward, uncomfortable, and heart breaking.
Fortunately, love is a bit of heaven.


5 Responses to “Loneliness”

  1. February 6, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    I love being alone, but I love hanging out with others too. I suck when it comes to reaching out to others. At least at first until I get to know someone. Once I do, it’s relatively easy, but for me, getting to know someone takes years.

  2. February 7, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Yeah Don described his tempermant like a cordless drill: needing 3 hours charge time for 30 minutes of interaction πŸ™‚ I think I’m the exact opposite. I’m good with 3 minutes downtime for 3 hours interaction!

    Perhaps we have different challenges:
    introverts – bumping up with others and sharing life together
    extroverts – slowing down for quiet times with God and keeping our mouths shut long enough to let Him speak

    And by “we” I don’t specifically mean YOU Portorikan and ME, although that is a big problem for me πŸ™‚

  3. February 7, 2008 at 11:38 am

    i’ve found i’m in a season of forced loneliness and its exhausting. i didn’t think life at seminary would leave me isolated…. but its very difficult to make deep/long-lasting relationships among a bunch of introverted preachers’ wives, international students with cultural differences, and graduations twice a year.

    they are either shy, can’t speak english, or moving away.

    but, the lord has also given me one or two friends that are sticking by during this time…. its just a delicate season, with intense feelings of loneliness.

  4. 4 scooter
    February 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I enjoy a great deal of time alone. I don’t feel it’s an unhealthy practice for me, I enjoy it. Personally speaking, it does not go hand in hand with depression or not wanting to be in community, I use it as a recharge time, mediation or prayer. It’s healthy for me. I am not saying I have never felt loneliness though, while I enjoy time alone, I do not like to feel lonely.

    And there is a difference.

    Sadly though, there’s more loneliness around us than we realize. And as we discussed, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. For those who have experienced extreme loneliness….you feel as though you can’t reach out. Maybe for fear of rejection. And possibly it’s because of past experiences or you fear your friends are too busy and maybe they are….so busy in fact they are too busy to even notice.

    This week was a wake up call for me to look around, see who may need that extra call or email during the week or maybe a lunch date…..

  5. February 10, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Remember Aron Ralston, the climber that cut off his arm that was trapped by a boulder when he was in a canyon in Utah? His book recounting the incident is great, and a friend is borrowing it or I’d quote it exactly. He spent almost a week trapped there and he describes lonliness very vividly. He directly discounts any ideas that hell is a place where you are constantly on fire; he describes hell as a place of total cold and isolation. He is a master of words and I can’t do it justice, but it’s on page 238 if you want to just read that page in the bookstore. πŸ™‚

    Donald Miller is the man……

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