Two summers ago the gloom of loneliness settled upon me every morning for several weeks in a row. Each day as I chose to give God thanks for His blessings, the gloom would lift, providing temporary relief. However, the next morning the gloom would settle on me again.

My mind was dominated by a single thought: How can I get rid of this loneliness? The solution, I thought, was for someone to love me. I did not notice opportunities to love or encourage someone else because that was not my goal. John Powell compares a lonely person to someone with a toothache--constantly in search of a dentist, someone to make him feel better.

I felt like an empty cup in need of filling. Although my thoughts were on my need for friendship, my loneliness actually made it more difficult to make friends or to reach out to existing friends. I usually became reclusive. When I did reach out, my efforts were contaminated by a selfish agenda. Inasmuch as I was trying to meet my own need and to alleviate my own pain, I was trying to use others. Since people don't like to be used, they weren't lining up to spend time with me.

I suddenly realized that I wasn't caring about anybody else in the world. I had become the center of my universe. Philippians 2:3-4 says:

With humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

I made a conscious decision to begin caring for others. At that moment the loneliness disappeared, and this time it didn't come back.

When we humble ourselves in this way, we are like a magnet which has been turned around. Instead of avoiding us, people are attracted to us because people love to be loved. People love for another human being to show genuine interest in what's happening in their lives. They love to be listened to; they love to be encouraged.

"You can make more friends in two months by being interested in others," says Dawson McAllister, "than you can in two years trying to get others interested in you."

To be able to reach out to others unselfishly, we must affirm that our needs for love and significance are already met in Christ. This affirmation results in a "full cup" perspective which enables us to share love with other people. We thus experience the reality of 1 John 4:19, "We love because He first loved us."

God says, "If you pour yourself out for the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness, and your gloom be as the noonday" (Isaiah 58:10 RSV).

Jamie Lash                     

(assisted by Brent Wallace)






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