Monthly Archives: January 2016

All The Lonely People

 

It’s been called an epidemic, a threat to our health that could be worse than smoking or obesity and it can make you prone to depression.

No, I’m not talking about alcohol or drugs.

I’m talking about loneliness.

Not only do over a million elderly people in the UK feel lonely almost all the time, but one third of 18-34 year olds list loneliness as a concern. If the recent BBC documentary “The Age of Loneliness” shows anything, it’s that we aren’t alone in feeling lonely.

And if we don’t like to talk about loneliness in the elderly, we’re often even more reluctant to face the loneliness of young people.

Amplified by the instagrammed perfection of Taylor and her #squad, and the endless stream of images from nights out, in a life which is increasingly being lived online and alone.

And it seems to me that this is a stark contrast to the way we were made to live. Isn’t it written in Genesis, right at the beginning “It’s not good for man to be alone”?  C.S Lewis writes:

“We are born helpless. As soon as we are fully conscious we discover loneliness. We need others physically, emotionally, and intellectually. We need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.”

We were made for relationships; family relationships, friendship, romantic love. That’s why loneliness feels so difficult.

Studies have shown that the lonely have lower self-esteem, sleep difficulties and even play a part in the development of illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

So what can we do about it?

1.Limit social media

It might have ‘social’ in the title, but watching other people’s filtered lives can increase our own feelings of loneliness. Instead of spending an evening on Facebook, why not heading out to a local community event or ‘phoning a friend or family member?

2.Volunteer

Whether it be helping out at a youth group or taking a meal ’round to new parents, volunteering can boost your employment chances and help you to connect with your local community. For more information, head to http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/campaigns/end-loneliness-in/.

3.Get Active

The gym might not be for everyone, so why not try a team sport or exercise class to get you out in the evening, raise those endorphin levels and meet some like minded people.

4.Peer Support

If feelings of loneliness are impacting your mental health, investigate peer mentoring and peer support schemes such as your local Mind group.

5.Make the Most of Alone Time

Tackling loneliness is as much about dealing with being alone as it is getting out and about. Use the time you are on your own to watch your favourite box set, do some reading or cooking a nice meal for yourself.

 

 

Home

Home.

It’s a word with a multitude of meaning, isn’t it?

It’s meant to be a place of warmth and comfort, safety and care. And yet all too often it’s a place of difficult, of conflict.

There are those longing to leave their homes; whether it be through war or broken relationships, whilst others are still searching, for someplace to call their own.

We see this searching, this longing for home throughout scripture. The Israelites searching for home in the wilderness, desperate for home during their exile.

We see it today, don’t we?

Refugees fleeing their homes in the hope that somewhere is safety.

Just over 2000 people sleep without a home in the UK every night.

And the prevalence of mental illness is almost twice as high in the homeless population.

The longing for home can be incredibly painful.

The longing for home has been part of the christian story since Adam and Eve were first expelled from the garden.

Our longing for home is, ultimately, our longing for heaven.

It’s a longing which everyone has, whether or not it can be named. Sigma and Rita Ora’s latest hit expresses it:

I need that home, I’m coming home, I’m coming home

Cause it’s life that I’ve been living in my home

Home, I’m coming home, I’m coming home

Cause I’m tired of being out here on my own

I know if I can find my own way back

There’s a life I always knew but never had

I’m tired of fighting things that I can’t change

Letting me go so I can finally find my place

 

 

It’s the cry of a prodigal son running towards the Father, whose arms are open wide, however long we’ve been away.

It’s a fulfilment which won’t see until the heaven, but the gospel of Jesus is that He sent His Spirit to give us a glimpse of home, and direct us towards God.

And I can’t help but think that the Church should, at its best, feel a little like home.

It’s where our heart begins to learn what it feels like to come home.

A home which welcomes, a home which encourages, a home which draws people in.

CS Lewis describes in “The Last Battle”, his final instalment in the Narnia chronicles the joy of that final homecoming, our ultimate hope.

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…”

In heaven we will find our “home at last”.

And while we wait, let’s invest in our church, our “home from home” until heaven.