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Mar 13, 2019 353 0 Jeannie Ewing
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The Cure for Loneliness

Do you feel isolated and desperate? Take heart! You are never alone!

About six years ago, our middle daughter, Sarah, was born—quite surprisingly with a rare craniofacial condition called Apert syndrome, which requires 20 to 60 surgeries throughout a lifetime. Until that day, my husband, Ben, and I were very active in our parish community and had a lot of different social circles. After that day, however, most people stopped inviting us to events and gatherings. It hurt. I felt abandoned. And I realized the infinite void of dark loneliness.

It was not that I did not cling to my faith; on the contrary, I wept to God all the more. I still felt as if the people closest to us should have been the ones to stand by our side when we needed them the most. Yet, they left us without really checking in, stopping by or even sending notes.

Since that time, I have pondered the universality of loneliness and why it is so pervasive in our world. Nearly every day I read about another suicide— sometimes of young children no older than my second grader—or another person who has fallen into the pit of hopelessness. It seems we are seeking human connections now more than ever but are doing so through difficult channels such as social media and other digital means.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta once famously stated that one of the greatest poverties is loneliness. What cures such a devastating void? I think often of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when all of His beloved friends fell asleep in His greatest hour of need. He prayed, as we often do, that His heavenly Father would take away the chalice of suffering from Him. The Father answered His prayer, just not in the way He initially wanted. Instead of taking the suffering of loneliness away, God sent an angel of consolation to accompany Jesus through His Passion.

I, also, remember that my darkest hours of loneliness are often met with daily, small consolations. They are sometimes difficult to ascertain, especially when I am heavily discouraged by the daily burdens of doctor’s appointments, funneling Sarah’s emotional outbursts and developmental delays into constructive behavior and mediating fights between our children, but consolations abound. Not long ago I was in the throes of loneliness, feeling generally misunderstood by people and not knowing to whom I could turn. I had another doctor’s appointment, this time I had to drag all my kids with me. Dreading this, I desperately pleaded to Our Lady to accompany me and the girls so that things would go smoothly—instead of as on the previous occasion when, while in the waiting room, Veronica threw a tantrum that lasted about 20 minutes. She heard my prayer. I went home, took several deep breaths and realized the release of my breath exhaled grateful praise to God for this small and seemingly insignificant help.

Loneliness, despite what we might think, is not necessarily healed by the balm of busyness. Yes, we are designed for community and we need human connection. What initially quells the sorrow and heaviness of loneliness is solitude with God. I often think about how the Old Testament relays that God was not in the thunder or on the mountain top or even in the gusty wind but in the still, small voice. We cannot hear Him when we are too consumed with the noise and clutter surrounding us. Solitude does not mean we are alone; it means we seek a sacred space and time to be with the only One who can grant us true and lasting interior peace.

Solitude heals loneliness. I find that I am most lonely when I am most distant from God. When I return to Him in prayer and silence, when I seek Him with my whole heart, then I discover that He fills me with consolation and His love. I am no longer empty or longing for my broken heart to be assuaged by human comforts and words of encouragement. Instead, God patches up my heart tenderly and lovingly and renews my spirit so I can carry with greater strength and hope the cross He has given me.

Jeannie Ewing

© is a spiritual writer and inspirational speaker. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in “Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers” and is the author of “From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph.” Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and dozens of other radio shows and podcasts. To know more about her, visit lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com. Originally published at www.catholicexchange.com. Reprinted with permission.

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