Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Greatest Disease in the West

The other night I went to my small group from church. It turned out to be an extra small group. There were two of us plus the two leaders. Usually there are about 8 or so. At any rate, it gave us some time to chat that might not have otherwise been there.

We ended up talking about friends in a round about way. Being single, I spend the majority of my time alone. Okay, I am with others at work, but it isn't a friendship. Most people there wouldn't know much about my personal life. There isn't really much time or space to share there. And then there is what people would think of as appropriate or inappropriate things to share in a work environment.

I have this deep need to connect with people. But I seem to struggle with making the deep friendships. I'm not sure why that is. My counselor would say that I never saw it modeled. That is true. Ever fiber of me longs for the friend who knows me inside and out and has been there over the long haul. It also longs to know someone else that way.

I came across this quote from Mother Teresa:

The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.

Have you ever thought of loneliness as a disease? I think she is right. It's not a disease of the body, but it is a disease of the heart and soul. You can't catch it the same way you can a cold. But some of the same things that help someone ill feel better can help the lonely: being physically cared for (hugs), prayed for, shown care in tangible ways.

If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic, I can pick it up, take it, and get better on my own. But no one recovers from loneliness on their own. The heart of it is that we need each other more than just an occasional email or a text announcing (though I haven't seen you in eons) that you are one of my 10 or more BFFs. It requires being there for others in a solid way rather than the semi solid way our culture is breeding.

So, how do you make friends? What are your tips?

Do you think we have any cause for concern that the internet and such is building a false sense of intimacy? Yes, we can text at the speed of light, but does that preclude anyone really knowing us?



Anonymous said...

I am a big Mother Teresa fan and used part of that quote in my own blog recently. I am also single & live alone. I am not lonely in general but I long for certain people(my parents who have passed, a friend of 30 years who died a few months ago).

I have seen good human connection "modeled" in my past & in my childhood, but I connect less well now when anything is en masse. It freaks me out & disinterests me. I have just a couple of people I can really count on & that is enough for me.

I believe the internet can HELP build false intimacy, but I also find the people that latch on to it for that have done so in their own real lives also, not just online. They meet someone new at work & that person is the BEST person they've ever met. She is good & pure &.....in 5 weeks she is saying that woman is her best friend and no one understands her like THAT woman-until something happens & she doesn't like that woman anymore.

I see that online & IRL. It is dangerous & it does lead to the big letdown, but I see it more as personality type than an online problem. With all that said, the internet does make that sort of thing much worse for someone so inclined. ~Mary
I found your blog thru Taking Heart...nice to meet you, Amy :-).

Sandee said...

Amy,...some great thoughts. (I came over from the devotion cafe.) I am single, but a momma with a houseful. When I become single five years ago, with two little ones in tow, I was not sure what God had for me. Now, I have three children (adopted my daugher from China in 2006) and am adopting another daughter from Ethiopia.

Even with a house full of kids, the lonelies can stll hit. especially when you want some grown up talk it out talk. Jesus is so awesome to give us real friends... not a lot, we don't need a lot, but one or two good ones will do.

Blessings to you.

Joyful said...

Oh Amy, I so identify with this post. Lonliness rips my heart apart at times. It's not that I don't have friends...I do...but I long for more than that casual connection.

I don't think anyone is exempt from lonliness. I think we go through seasons and situations when it is more pronounced at times. I have such a longing to be known and accepted.

Just yesterday I attended...for the first time...a program the local Library is offering entitled, "News and Views". For an hour attendees discuss the latest head-liners. One of the topics yesterday was about the use of Internet, Facebook, E-mail, texts, etc... and it's effect on socialization. So many 'friendships' are not face-to-face. Sadly, many of my dearest friends, live so far away that I joke my computer is my 'best friend'.

I'm with you on this one Amy. I mean, after all, I comment here often, but I've never met you :o)

Have a good day,