What to do about loneliness? It’s a question many Australians are asking right now, especially since the COVID pandemic began. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 54% of Australians reported feeling greater loneliness because of it. With long periods of lockdown, isolation, and government mandates preventing personal connections with friends and family, loneliness has crept up on many, making them feel sad and bereft.
However, right now it’s possible to find the answer as to what to do about loneliness. For me, it’s a spiritual response, one that I’ve found enables us to experience the joy of companionship that’s good for our mental health and wellbeing.
A friend of mine who lives alone, has proved this to be true. As a daily reader of the Bible, along with Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she has learned that divine Love is meeting her every need – including companionship. So, she was pleased when one day, before the pandemic started, she visited a new café, sat down by herself at a long bench table where unexpectedly several other women did too. They said they came at that time every week. They invited her to join them for coffee and pleasant conversation. This led to a happy weekly outing and the companionship of new friends. Her need had been met.
Since then, COVID isolation has interrupted daily life. Many companionable gatherings have ended. It’s raised this question for a lot of us. “Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love.” Mary Baker Eddy. Science and Health p.266
How comforting to know, that although the pandemic has impacted our lives, we are never solitary, never cut off from the source of companionship, God. Divine Love is our constant companion. This Love is always present, always companioning us in daily life, keeping us safe, taking away all sense of fear. As God’s loved person, we have been given spiritual courage, the impetus to leave our house, and the confidence to responsibly engage with others again. As the Bible reassures us. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7. New King James Version.
Overcoming loneliness is achievable. One way to do this, is to begin each day with heartfelt prayer, perhaps along these lines. “Thank You divine Love that You are our Father-Mother. Your great love companions each of us every moment. You made us in Your image, thus we’re able to express Your qualities of confidence, kindness and togetherness right here and now”. This kind of prayer, reminds me that God is always loving and caring for us. Our life is never an empty space. Kindness and good company are present. Knowing this enables us to shrug off the mental cloak of loneliness and connect with others – even if briefly.
This connection could take place at a café, where prompted by Love, we can briefly engage staff in encouraging small talk and not be silent. Or at the supermarket by lovingly inquiring how a team member, or their family, is getting along in these difficult times. Such simple, heart-felt conversations like these, can lift one’s spirit, and our expression of Love’s kindness to others, will make someone’s day.
It’s possible right now, to “Consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Bible, Hebrews 10:24-25. New International Version.