Overcoming loneliness

Excerpted from Radio Program No. 119, part of the radio series The Bible Speaks to You,
reprinted from the July 18, 1964, Sentinel.

This radio series was published in the Christian Science Sentinel without the names of the interviewers and speakers. 

Interviewer: Loneliness is a familiar problem. In his book, Love and Conflict, Gibson Winter spoke of the excessive loneliness created by industrial society. He said: “It is one thing to be alone in order to be quiet and recollect oneself. This is creative aloneness.… On the other hand, there is a kind of loneliness which comes from being isolated.… It is the estrangement of the isolated person who moves anonymously in the midst of crowds” (© 1958, by Gibson Winter, Doubleday and Company, Incorporated, New York, NY).

What about this? What about the separation people feel from family and friends?

Speaker: Well, loneliness is not just a matter of loss of personal contact with friends or loved ones. It is caused by a feeling of separation that runs much deeper than that. Loneliness can be attributed to the feeling that man is a mortal, that he is virtually separated from God and His purpose for man. When an individual feels lonely or homesick, what he really longs for actually has its source in God. I am speaking of such qualities as happiness and satisfaction, security and contentment. They come from God, and we experience them in our everyday living as the evidence of His presence and goodness. Speaking of God’s goodness, the Psalmist wrote (Psalms 107:9 ), “He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

You see most people believe that they are mortals and that their happiness and contentment are dependent upon their relationship with other mortals. Christian Science takes quite a contrary view. It holds that man is spiritual, that he has his origin in God, and that all that constitutes his real being manifests God’s nature as the image and likeness of God. When we begin to put happiness on the basis of our spiritual relationship to God, we find that satisfaction and contentment have a new basis.

Nothing can separate man from the love of God, and nothing can separate him from the manifestation of that love.

These are very important points in Christian Science: that God is Love, that man is the image and likeness of God, and that therefore man is eternally inseparable from Him. Nothing can separate man from the love of God, and nothing can separate him from the manifestation of that love. Paul pointed this out in his letter to the Romans when he said (Romans 8:35, 37 ): “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

Interviewer: I was in New York recently for a couple of days on business, and around dusk each evening an acute sense of loneliness set in as I saw people going home; and no matter what I did, I couldn’t rid myself of that feeling. What should my prayer have been?

Speaker: That reminds me of an experience that I had a number of years ago when I was traveling and away from my family for some time. I was feeling quite sorry for myself and alone when I went to a Christian Science Wednesday evening testimony meeting. The subject of the reading from the desk was “Joy.” The readings brought out the spiritual basis of joy: that joy has its origin in God and that man, because of his spiritual relationship to God, includes in his very nature the quality of joy.

Now this changed my thought completely. I realized that because I was not separated from God, I could not be separated from the source of joy and contentment. Immediately following I had, and in travel which I have since undertaken I have had, a feeling of being at one with the source of contentment and satis­faction.

Interviewer:  What is distinctive about this approach to the problem of lone-li-
ness?

Speaker: Many people feel that they must lean upon a person, that they must have the love, interest, and affection of another, and that these will result in happiness and contentment. Whereas in Christian Science we learn that when we lean exclusively upon God, we find Him to be the source of all happiness and contentment. And then we are free of loneliness.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine who is an earnest student of Christian Science. A number of years ago her husband passed on quite suddenly after seventeen years of a very wonderful and happy marriage. My friend knew that if she let her thought dwell on separation and grief, on loneliness and despair, she would have to conquer these attitudes eventually. She also knew that the real man is never separated from divine Love, God, and from His continuing care. And so when she felt depressing thoughts coming into her consciousness, she would turn from them to God in prayer.

As we understand the conscious worth of man and let that worth be expressed in our thoughts, it will be expressed in our actions and in our relationship with 

One day she was struck quite forcefully with the fact that God is the source of all good. Now she already knew this. It was a basic truth which she had accepted, but at this point this truth began to have a deeper, more practical meaning for her than ever before. She realized that in the past she had been looking to her husband as the source of her support, her love, satisfaction, and contentment. She saw now that abundance, contentment, and joy were ever-present spiritual realities and that she could lean entirely upon God to find them.

This brought a wonderful sense of peace. It gave her confidence that all she needed would be supplied, and she experienced an abundance of good.

She has been able to devote her life to helping others. Some years later after she had remarried, she told me that she realized that there had never really been any sense of incompleteness in her life.

Loneliness is just part of the generally accepted concept that man is mortal. As we learn to grow out of that concept through understanding God and the spiritual nature of man, we begin to master this misconception of being. Then we find that all sense of loneliness begins to fade from our experience.

Interviewer:  How do these ideas help us to overcome loneliness in this fast-moving industrial age?

Speaker: They help us by bringing sharply into focus the true worth of man as the image and likeness of God. That is what really needs to be comprehended. Mary Baker Eddy says in one of her writings (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17 ): “… only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.”

Man is not inferior or insecure or left to be lonely, but actually he is always at one with his heavenly Father-Mother God. He finds his identity and purpose in his relationship to God. As we understand the conscious worth of man and let that worth be expressed in our thoughts, it will be expressed in our actions and in our relationship with others, and we will find that life is satisfying, full of real contentment. The recognition of man’s true being enables us to express Godlike qualities, which cause us to be attractive to others.

As we grow in our spiritual awareness, our understanding of the basis of man’s being, we find that loneliness and isolation from others are removed from our experience. The dread of being alone is replaced with the awareness that in truth we are never outside of God’s presence, never unable to fulfill our purpose of expressing Him.

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