Lonely

I think I am lonely. This might be completely obvious to readers of the blog (and perhaps to people I meet IRL). It is only just dawning on me.

It feels like a cousin of boredom, a kind of boredom directed inwards. A restlessness, aimlessness, valuelessness inside. Possibly a result of outward boredom: finding nothing of value in the objects of my activity, that lack of value is reflected within. I don’t feel lonely when I’m not bored.

Except when I experience joy — inspiration, success, fulfilment, discovery — and want to share it. Outside of narrow domains (work colleagues will share relevant joys), there is nobody.

My wife is generally not interested in, or is even antagonistic to, many of the things that excite me. I have to think three times before sharing anything in that direction — and indeed I am always on the lookout for things I can and should share — that makes the whole exercise more instrumental and less spontaneous.

I think that loneliness is (at least partly) what drives me to porn. Pretty women smiling at me and welcoming me in the 1980s/90s “top-shelf” softcore images I’ve started browsing (nostalgia in there too of course). Women being bent to my will in the more modern hardcore videos I watch (all mainstream stuff I stress!). Loneliness brings yearning and self-pity and a confusion of darker emotions.

I think loneliness is (at least partly) behind my twitter “addiction”. Searching for a glimpse of a kindred spirit.

Realising this has reduced the tidal pull, although it hasn’t removed the urge completely.

So, what to do about it? What to do about it “as a Christian”?

Boredom and loneliness could easily be described as sins. As well as their superficial sinfulness (There’s plenty to be done! There are plenty of people to befriend!), boredom and loneliness — like shame — lead only to a weakening of the spirit. Indulging loneliness — with porn or social media — doesn’t cure it or lead anywhere. There’s a brief wave of superficial excitement — at best — then less than nothing.

Loneliness is not a “natural” response to … anything. Like shame: I shouldn’t succumb to shame, not because I haven’t done anything shameful — I have, but because Jesus loves and values me, and my sins are washed away in His love. [I should take Baptism more seriously.]

I don’t need to be lonely — even if I “have no friends” (not quite true) — because I have Jesus with me — and sometimes I do feel that. I can tell Jesus the exciting things I discover or read in prayer or in my diary.

Most of all I can learn to love myself and celebrate myself in the way that Jesus loves me. Jesus treasures me for a reason, and He wants to see me grow and thrive.

If I love myself, celebrate myself, enjoy myself — truly, in the way that Jesus loves me — then I thrive, become stronger, fuller of joy, and my love will be stronger, more joyful.

So I will cultivate this garden:

  • I have bought a new Moleskine. I’ll write down the Psalms & other Scriptures I’ve learnt & am learning (& other poems — Shakespeare, Hopkins, …). I’m writing down prayer commitments to cultivate an intentional prayer life too.
  • Love others by loving myself: do something every day that increases my power.
  • Love myself by loving others: serve well, acknowledge the gratitude, and offer it up to God (this morning: getting my 94-yr-old M-i-L into her pressure stockings after she didn’t trust the nurse).
  • Root out the weeds … [that stings like James 4:8b stings]
  • Recognise the weeds as weeds — attractive but draining and invasive. Yes, invasive.
  • Hopkins said immortal diamond. Invest in and treasure that gem which is my immortal soul.
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2 Comments

  1. I’m just now getting around to reading this, David. I was traveling when I saw that you posted about it on FB. I’m sorry for my delay–because “friends” show up for important disclosures like these! So, first off, I’m grateful and blessed by your vulnerability in this post, my friend! That takes great strength of character and God will use it to deepen your resolve in these good directions that you’ve decided you want to take. But I do hope that you also try to find other Christians in your community and work. I think you seriously need a flesh and bone “male” Christian friend in your life. And, honestly, more than one of those because, given your situation, it might be more than one person can handle. I don’t want to “preach” to you about what you should do, though. I just hurt for you because there is so much encouragement you’re missing by not being friends with another male Christ-follower. As you already know, I’m going through some really heavy stuff lately. My heart is broken and just the other day I told my women’s “small group” (think Sunday School) about it. They showed incredible compassion toward me, prayed for me and hugged me. They “felt” my pain and it was so very comforting. We all need to lean into our relationship with the Lord when we feel lonely, but He also expects and wants us to experience friendship and support with other believers. Without out it, you will continue to struggle in all sorts of ways. Totally makes sense why you’ve been drawn into porn, given the situation with your wife–which breaks my heart for you, by the way! I’m praying for you, your wife, your family and your faith, David!

    Reply
    • Dear Beth, thank you very much for your comment. Please don’t feel sorry: you do show up and you bring insight. By coincidence your comment arrives as I return from a boozy work dinner. In a quiet corner I and colleague X were celebrating Martin Luther. I will find local Christian friendship. I pray your heart is not as broken as you might think it is.

      Reply

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