Alone is a funny thing, it isn’t always the same. I’ve never had a problem with being alone, I’m at peace with myself and it is what it is. With that type of alone you can just head out into the woods and experience the comfort of nature, or you can head across the street to the bar where there are other people who are alone and then you aren’t alone anymore. More than likely there will be someone to get into a conversation with and if you need to kill a couple of hours, a couple beers and some strangers will do the trick. This is one step up from alone and destitute, where you are cold and hungry, existing completely outside the comfort and shelter of normal society and in actual danger of not surviving, someone who has no close friends or relatives and has gone homeless for example.
A third kind of alone is not as easy, it is the alone that you experience when you are with people you know but don’t have a close relationship. For example, casual friends from church or work but not a spouse, parents, siblings or girl or boyfriend. Many times, when you are with those type of people they are with someone who they are in a close relationship and have invited you along to join them in a dinner or event of some kind. This too can alleviate the most intense feelings of loneliness for a time, but even though you are with people you know there is the feeling that you are an outsider and you can’t really shake that knowledge. So in many ways, being alone alone and alone with other people at the bar who are alone is better than this alone with acquaintances feeling.
Over the holiday weekend I discovered a fourth kind of alone, in addition to the first three levels of alone. I had plenty of invites for Thanksgiving dinner so there was no danger of spending the day alone alone at the bar, or hungry and destitute alone in fear for my life. I have to say however, it was the most intense feeling of alone I have ever experienced. The kind of alone that makes it easy to understand how the holidays have become the most prevalent time of year for suicides. It is an involuntary alone, an alone that comes with a longing to be with someone but for some reason circumstances have prevented it. I call this one exiled alone, an alone where you have been shoved aside or left behind. For example, the death of a loved one, insurmountable distance, divorce, rejection even perhaps the time or distance put out of reach by a demanding job. This kind of alone can be intensified by sadness, anger, bitterness and jealousy. It is the worst kind of alone of all, an alone accompanied by a crushing, suffocating and unrelenting pain in the chest, pain that no worldly comfort seems to be able to relieve. At least with destitute alone there may be a church or shelter available to give you food and blankets, but with exiled alone no one can help, there are no words to make it better, no one can say or do anything to comfort this level of alone save maybe God Himself. With this type of alone, for someone without strong faith in his Savior, alone all too often results in another sad holiday statistic.
For anyone who may be reading this, I have these words of comfort from the words of God to the prophet Isaiah “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”. In these times remember the promise of our Savior “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”. Even in the times when we are most alone, we are never truly alone because the One who is forever is always at our side, in good times and bad, poverty and prosperity, when times are easy and when times are hard.