Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. (Genesis 2:18a)
In a previous church, I visited with a distinguished man who came to our worship services over a period of time. I called on him and he let me visit him in his home. This person, who was approximately 75 years old, lived in a tiny, one-room studio apartment. We had a nice visit, but just before I was getting ready to pray and leave, the conversation turned strange. First, he started talking about this being the only place where he was sure we were not being bugged by the Democratic Party. He knew they were after him. Then, as I was walking out the door, he said, “Please tell me if I ever smell bad. I heard a woman, about 10 years ago, say I smelled bad.” This was a man who was meticulous in every way.
Over time, a number of us came to understand that this poor man had spent the vast majority of his life alone. He never married. He was an only child, who was totally alone when his elderly mother died. He worked in the back room of a small business, doing the books for thirty-nine years. We realized it took him great courage to attempt a church life. Sadly, he pushed the church away, as his paranoia that the Democratic Party had spies in the church, kept him from connecting with our church. A number of people tried to include him, but his issues were just too serious and, without familial advocates, we had to give up. To this day, I fret about how he spent the rest of his days.
Connections with other human beings are vitally important to a meaningful life. People who are without others have higher levels of dementia, suicide, and many other health issues, both physical and emotional. Briana Wiest, in her article, “Connection Is a Core Human Need, But We are Terrible at It,” states, “Connection is the experience of oneness. It’s having shared experiences, relatable feelings, or similar ideas.” Wiest continues, “The biggest problem in most people’s lives in trauma, and trauma is what creates a damaged ability to connect with others.” I do not know the trauma my older friend experienced, but he did come across as a traumatized human being.
Today, think about and pray for ways you and your church can make connections with those who are utterly alone. It isn’t an easy process because those people are often the hardest to find. Plus, they will often not be particularly interested in connecting, but need to all the same. Doing so will take compassion, patience, and emotional creativity to draw them out. Without us, who will? I love Wiest’s next statement: “Most people believe a connection is something they earn by being ‘good enough’ when it is really something they develop by being willing enough.” Our task is to provide a situation where they will be willing enough. Be willing to open your heart to someone who has lost connections with this world.