MANY OF US ARE LONELY
In his book “Everybody’s Normal till you get to know them”, author John Ortberg cites an experiment conducted by Suzy Becker where she asked primary school children to solve some of the world’s biggest problems: How do we help people to stop smoking? What can we do about global warming? How can bosses make the workplace better for employees? According to Ortberg, the toughest was this: “With billions of people in the world, someone should be able to figure out a system where no one is lonely. What do you suggest?”
He went onto say: “I have never known anyone who failed at relationships—who was isolated, lonely, unconnected, had no deep friendships—yet had a meaningful and joy-filled life. Not a single person… Conversely, I have never known anyone who succeeded at relationships—who cultivated great friendships, who was devoted to their family, who mastered the art of giving and receiving love—yet had a bad life”.
Mother Theresa said: “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty… Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat”
So why are so many people lonely?
BECOMING MORE POPULAR
A lot of people today are trying to become more popular. We do anything we can to…
> Have more people add us on Facebook.
> Attract more followers on Instagram.
> Get more likes.
> Generate more comments.
But as much the pursuit of popularity seems to be the answer, often it fails to take away the loneliness.
POPULARITY VS. FRIENDSHIP
|THE PRESSURE TO PERFORM
Shauna Niequist wrote an article called “Stop Instagramming your Perfect Life”. In it she said: “My life looks better on the Internet than it does in real life”.
The path to popularity requires that we constantly perform. We’re never allowed to relax. We’re never allowed to fail. We’re never allowed to be sad. We’ve got to always look good, always come across happy, & always appear popular (even if we’re not).
|THE FREEDOM TO BE YOURSELF
Friends don’t expect us to always look good. They like hanging out with us even when we’re not happy. They don’t care if we’re smart, talented, athletic, or musical. That’s not what brings us together.
|AGAINST EACH OTHER
When we’re trying to climb the ladder to popularity, everyone else is competition. The better they do, the more likely it is that they will overtake us.
|FOR EACH OTHER
But when we get off the ladder, and just enjoy each other’s company, we can be for each other. The better they do, the better it is for us, because we share in their success.
|COME AND GO
The problem with the popularity ladder is that it’s easier to fall down than it is to climb up. And the moment we lose popularity, we lose the attention.
|BEST FRIENDS FOREVER
But when a person develops a solid friendship, there’s a good chance they can maintain that friendship for many, many years, if not for life.
HOW TO DEVELOP A FRIENDSHIP
In his book ‘The Four Loves’, C.S. Lewis explains the difference between dating relationships and friendships… “Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest”
The key then is not to set out to focus on the friendship, but to focus on what unites you as friends.
Don’t ask ‘Do you want to be friends?’
Rather ask ‘Do you want to come play basketball?’ or ‘Do you want come shopping?’
Don’t spend time discussing the friendship.
Rather spend time discussing basketball or fashion.
Don’t work on the friendship.
Rather work on a project together which will build the friendship.
Lewis went onto say: “People who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends… Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers”