COVID-19: Navigating Loneliness
Here’s the scene: Tom Hanks's beaten and worn-down "dad bod" is floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean. He’s donning some sort of loincloth adult diaper. His all-natural mullet is somehow both curly and straight at the same time. He’s looking frantically in all directions for the friend he’s lost in the sea. “Wilson! I’m sorry, Wilson!” These are the soul-crushing cries of a man who has lost his only friend in the world. Did I mention that Wilson is a volleyball?
The point is, loneliness can make you do strange things.
In all seriousness, as we are in the middle of “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” many of us are navigating different levels of loneliness. It doesn't matter if you live alone, with a roommate, spouse, or entire family, everyone experiences it at some time. The truth is, loneliness is far more internal than it is external.
Because loneliness is an emotion many of us don’t like to feel, our natural response is often to run from it, avoid it, or deny it. This was not the way of Jesus. When we recognize and appropriately navigate loneliness, it can be fruitful. Here are a few ideas to help you during this season (even if you’ve yet to fashion a companion from your sports equipment):
Seek Jesus in the Solitude
Consider this: Many notable bible characters had radical encounters with God in times of solitude (Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jesus, John, to name a few). Luke’s gospel tells us, “[Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Often the desert is the place where God is most evident. When all the distractions of life are taken away, consider using your time to seek Jesus’ voice and direction like never before.
Engage in Online Community
We all desire lasting relationships and connection. We need each other. You don’t have to be isolated just because you have to stay home. We have hundreds of online connect groups that are meeting via Zoom each week. Join one. Try scheduling video calls with friends and family every week (I have a weekly Zoom chat with two friends just to discuss movies). The key is to find connection.
Keep a Schedule
Intentionality is always helpful. If you waste your day watching television or mindlessly scrolling on your phone, the anxiety mounts. In contrast, if you carefully plan your day toward productivity, relationships, and time with Jesus, you will be more at peace in solitude.
This season may look different, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be productive. Try to use this time to set and accomplish some goals that you usually don’t find time for. Might it be time to declutter your closet, finally? Can you create any healthy habits during this time?
The link between emotional, physical, and spiritual health is overwhelming. Exercising regularly is a great way to maintain emotional balance, and it will help you battle anxiety and depression. Check out the first part of our three-part article on staying healthy here for more.
Focus on Today
Jesus encouraged us to “not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). Often in times of difficulty, it’s best to take things one day at a time. Don’t bring added anxiety upon yourself by worrying about things that are outside of your control. Focus on what you can control today.
Friends, keep trusting God during this time! Put some of these practices in place. If you get really desperate, you can buy your own Wilson Cast Away Volleyball on Amazon. You’re welcome.