Being Alone vs. Being Lonely
Just the other day a friend and I were discussing the fact that we both lived alone and compared that with “being lonely.” Most people would say they are one in the same, but in actuality they are quite different.
After being married for twenty-three years, I found myself living with my nineteen year old son. After he got his first job, he announced that he was moving out and for the first time in my life, I was living alone. Quite a difference going from living with a family of four to being on your own. A little over a year later, my daughter moved in with me and for the next four years I once again had someone living with me. When she got married this past May, she of course moved out and I was once again on my own.
So, there’s the fact I live alone. Which is different from being lonely most would say.
Alone – adj.
Being apart from others; solitary.
Being without anyone or anything else; only.
Being alone to me is simply a state of being. If you live by yourself, you are alone. If you are in the house by yourself, you are alone. No emotions in the least are involved.
On the other hand, lonely is more of a state of mind than a state of being. I can feel lonely, yet be surrounded by many family and friends. I can also feel lonely when I’m at my home by myself.
lonely – adj., -li·er, -li·est.
Without companions; lone.
Characterized by aloneness; solitary.
While the dictionary definition does include “aloneness” and “solitary,” I still see the two as being very different in meaning. I think it’s normal for someone that lives alone to feel lonely from time-to-time. I think it can also be said there are some living alone that feel lonely most of the time. While I do live alone, I’m comfortable with that. There are indeed some advantages to being responsible to no one while you’re in your home. But then there’s my emotional feelings of being lonely. Wanting the companionship of someone else… being close enough to someone where you can share your day’s happenings…. someone to share your love with and receive love in return.
Such is the way I feel on two often-misunderstood words: alone and lonely.
As a part of my Lenten season, I am doing without something that means a lot to me. This year I have once again vowed to stay away from the social networking site Facebook. I’ve previously explained how important the site has become to a single guy, living on his own, so I won’t go into details there. But I would like to say a few words about what it’s like to go without it’s activities for two weeks now.
They say you don’t realize how much time you spend doing something until you can’t do it anymore and such is the case with staying away from FB. There are so many times that things were happening in my life that I wanted to share in my status message but wasn’t able to. I love to try to predict the weather and just yesterday we had a snowstorm that I would have loved to tried to predict. I’m also a person that enjoys my music and I miss posting the “Spin of the Day.” I also miss finding out about what’s going on with my friends and family. Status messages were always a way to keep you in touch with others.
Yes, the last two weeks have been long, but I feel like it’s getting easier and easier to stay away each day…. In my next blog, I’ll be telling what I have been doing with my extra time.
A lot of people continue to ask what I’m going to do after I retire at the end of the current school year. Although I’m just taking it one day at a time in trying to get to the last day of school, I have put quite a bit of thought into that question.
If I had a choice right now as to what I could do upon my retirement, I would say I’d like to work in a funeral home. I don’t want to embalm bodies, but I’ve always wanted to work with people that are grieving to be of service to them. I’ve even asked a friend who works at a local funeral home and he told me that they do accept applications.
When I was in college, one of my two grandfathers became very ill and was taken to Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem. As time edged on, his prognosis grew worse and as he went into septic shock, we realized his life on this earth was coming to a close. The last two times I saw him before he died were difficult to experience. One night he was struggling and writhing back and forth to loosen himself from the IV’s and machines that were being used. The next night, he was bloated and barely recognizable. It was at that point that I prayed that his struggling would be over and he would pass on to the next world.
While the family decided not to have an open casket service, the family was allowed to view the body before interment. Although he didn’t look a lot like himself, it was a vast improvement over the last two nights I saw him. I was quite amazed at what they were able to do.
During later college years, I had a speech class in which I had to do a speech on a process. I called the funeral home that had taken care of my grandfather’s services and they agreed to detail the embalming process for me. Although I wasn’t able to watch someone being embalmed (and don’t really think I would have wanted to), I was taken to the room where the process was carried out before placement in the casket. While I was giving the speech in class a week later, I figured I had hit it spot-on when one of the students got up and left during the speech. When she returned and offered a critique, she said it was quite graphic and detailed and that she felt like she was going to be sick. I considered that a compliment given the circumstances.
So there you go,,, in a nutshell how I’ve been answering most people who have a question about my future plans. Yes, they may change, but for right now that’s where I stand and I have already decided how to best pursue that desire.
As I continue to trudge the road of happy destiny, I’ve reached the inescapable conclusion that yes, everything does happen for a reason. Those events in life that would raise us to new levels of happiness, as well as those that leave us darkened and depressed, are designed for us to experience. Most recently in my own life, I have learned that there are many things about myself and the world around me that I have as of yet to fully understand.
I know there are times in all of our lives when we see that special something or someone or some place that we think we just have to have in our lives. We will spend enormous amounts of our time and energy to secure that which we desire. In some instances, we are also willing to take money that we’ve earned to achieve that ultimate “prize.”
If we’re able to get what we desire, we may feel content for a while, but then who’s to say we’ll stay that way? We’ll see something else we just “have to have” and start the cycling of pursuing and grasping all over again. It would seem that no matter what we can obtain, it never seems to be quite enough
Some of my most valuable lessons have come from circumstances in which I’ve gone after something I’ve desired, only to find out it wasn’t really what I needed. From the outside looking in, it appear to be something desirable, but in reality it carried unseen liabilities that perhaps I just didn’t really want to consider.
Even though I may not always fully understand, I believe we are given human wants and desires and it’s up to us to determine which of those we pursue and how we go about pursuing them. I need to examine situations carefully and not always buy the first of something I see without first investigating its quality and price. If I’m thinking I really want to go somewhere, I need to not only check out the travel brochures, but do someone online research or talk to friends that have been to those locations. If I’m entering in to a relationship, I need to take the time to get to know the person well before making any large commitment of time and energy.
Life is certainly full of its up’s and down’s, but if I use each experience as a learning tool, it will be all the much simpler to live at peace.
“As you communicate with your Source of Being, know that you’re awakening a part of yourself that’s just like it.” – Jim Dyer
In the calendar “Quote of the Day,” I am reminded how important it is to stay in contact with God and share my thoughts with Him. Prior to becoming enlightened, I rarely prayed at all and when I did, it was usually half-hearted prayer. But as the difficult times in my life became too much to bear, I found that God was my constant companion and I could talk to Him at any time I wished.
There are people in our lives that we consider friends and mentors and most are just a quick phone call away. God provides those people in our lives that can help us decipher what’s going on in our minds. Many times they have faced similar circumstances and can relate to the situation we’re going through at the time.
But then there are those times when nothing short of a conversation with God in prayer will do. In the darkest hours of the night or the brightest rays of the sunny day, He is there to give us guidance, wisdom, and strength to face whatever might be facing us in that particular time. He is the God of all consolation and wants His children to come to Him in prayer, both in good times and bad.
And as we do this, we awaken the Holy Spirit that dwells in each one of us and begin to think more with the mind of God and less like that of an Earthly being. And while complete conformity is not to be attained, we certainly can become more God-like in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
The following scriptures speak of God’s promises for all of His children:
“I will both lie down in peace and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:8
“In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple and my cry come before Him, even to His ears.” -Psalm 18:6
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” – Psalm 23:1
“Surely goodness and mercy and goodness shall follow me all the days of my life.” – Psalm 23:6
“The hand of God hath touched me.” – Job 19:21
“But as for me, I would ask God, and to God I would commit my cause – Who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.” – Job 5:8-11
“As for me, I will certainly not sin against the LORD by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right.” – 1 Samuel 12:23
“Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses, is there any other God besides Me?
No, there is no other Rock; I have not one.”
In the reading I chose for today, it speaks of God’s everlasting promise to protect us in all circumstances we might face. It’s easy to look at our surrounding situations in life and become filled with terror and bewilderment. I have found this to be true especially during times of transition in our lives. The old and familiar gives way to the new and unfamiliar and it can take our minds and bodies a period of time to adjust. And with those adjustments, as we face the “great unknowns,” that fear can begin to settle in once again.
I remember early in my recovery journey, I would wake up first thing in the morning and be filled with terror and bewilderment. I didn’t know the exacts reasons, but at first thought it might be emotions left over from dreams that I had during the night. But as the feelings of uneasiness increased, I began to question God and ask Him why these feelings persisted. Especially given the fact that they were the very first thoughts that I had upon waking and I truly therefore had no pre-thoughts that would have invoked them.
We must always remember that God is by our side and even when our human minds cannot feel His presence, He is there nonetheless. I began to do more intense morning devotions when my waking thoughts of anxiousness and unease increased and although it wasn’t easy, that thought process soon replaced the terror and bewilderment.
I realize that our brains in wondrous creations of God’s handiwork, but sometimes our previous life experiences and thought processes can cloud our comprehension of His presence. I must remember the disciples in the boat that were experiencing what they considered to be a life-threating storm as Jesus slept in the boat. The tossing and turning of our lives will eventually cease as we learn to put our faith and trust in the one that can quiet the storm and make still the waves.
May peace be with us all this day,