This post is a reflection and also a long-form reply to a recent post, Against Loneliness, by Erlend Sogge Heggen whom I've had the pleasure of collaborating with online. To keep it from getting lost forever on Discord, and to share with any other travelers who may wander here, I am publishing it on my blog.
Erlend, your honest thoughts about life and loneliness, which you have shared quite freely in the Spicy Lobster space, has led me to believe that I can share my honest thoughts here as well, without being disrespectful to the community and culture that you are trying to foster here.
You said that if you had to imagine a “Sworn Enemy” what comes to mind loneliness. If I had to do the same, I think mine would be lies.
To lie is to convey something as if it were true, even though it is false. It is a perversion of the truth and leads to many kinds of hurt.
In my life, one of my greatest battles has been that with pride. And when I say pride, I don’t mean a contented satisfaction or “pride” in my work or accomplishments, but a toxic impression of myself that makes me believe that I am entitled to something.
The thing about pride is that it is based on a lie: the lie that I am more than I really am, and often that I am more than somebody else. It can cause me to deny any fault of my own, and this denial usually hurts the people around me. If left untamed it becomes an all-consuming beast that can destroy relationships. And all of this destruction is caused simply because I wanted to be right.
This battle against pride is one I must fight every day, as it rears it’s head in many and diverse ways, but the strongest remedy for lies is always and simply the truth.
Lies and the pride that it may breed are similarly one of the roots of disrespect. Every time I come into a public space, I come knowing that there are many people here, many of which I probably don’t agree with on subjects that I consider important. But I still respect them all. Respect comes from the admission of a truth: we are all people, and in that way, we are all on level ground.
Every person has a soul, and when I say soul, I mean something very specific. To me, a soul is what gives you your free will. It’s what makes us different than robots and computers. Without a soul, we would just be like complicated computers, or like an AI, with no true will of our own. All of our actions would just be based purely off of the chemicals in our brains and how they came together. But because we have a soul, we are individuals with our own choices. Our souls, through our spirits, can influence our physical bodies so that we aren’t just an un-feeling consequence of the physical world.
Our souls are what give us the ability to love, because love means nothing without choice. If a robot told you “I love you” because you told it to say that, it wouldn’t mean anything. Therefore we must have choice, we must have a soul, to love.
This means we can come to our own conclusions and have our own opinions; it is the irrevocable right of every person to do so, and I believe that our global society could gain much benefit if we had more respect for each-other.
This respect need not come from a position of liking the person your are respecting. You don’t have to like somebody, or what they believe in, or what they do, to respect them. You respect that they have a choice and you understand that they are not obligated to think that you are right.
You may not always get respect from others, but even then, you should respect them. They may have chosen not to return the favor, and that may mean applying moderation measures to prevent them from disrupting your community in a harmful way, but that doesn’t mean that you disrespect them.
How accurate was the description of loneliness in the quote that you included in your post, Erlend! It is the human soul, our own singularity, that drives us to seek something more. The whole planet groans for it’s purpose, but we must ponder and name it, for we are burdened with choice! We catch glimpses of what we need in each-other, that our existence must not merely be for ourselves, and we seek to belong to someone; to love and hope in what is good together.
Oh how our souls yearn for something that we know we need.
This loneliness is good, and is a gift, but only if it is salted with hope. Our hope is what keeps our loneliness from turning to despair. Our hope is that our loneliness will drive us to a place where we no longer have to be lonely.
I was once a very lost person. I was blinded by pride, and one day I was forced to admit that my pride was more important to me than anything else. It was a dark day, and on that day, for the first time in my life, I was faced with true loneliness.
My pride and my selfishness, if I continued in it, were going to separate me from the parents who had loved and cared for me beyond all that I had deserved. It would be the first true separation from them in my whole life. A separation of our sprits.
Not only would I be alone, but I shuddered to consider the injustice of it all! Here they were, helpless before my sovereign choice, watching their son walk away from what he knew in his heart to be true! Because he would not be humbled. Because he would not admit his need. Because he was harboring a lie that he told to himself.
That’s when I broke. I could not live my life alone. I could not leave them that had given their lives for me. Even if it meant sacrificing the deepest and hardest parts of my heart, it was worth it to be with them. And that day I came to The Lord, the God of the Bible to ask him to help me and change my heart, and to take my pride.
That dark day was the start to a change in my life that has never left me. I must still fight my pride, every day. I must still strive, every moment, to do what is right, and to follow the one who saved me, but I have hope.
I have faith that my God loves me, that I belong to him, and that he belongs to me. I have hope that one day, he will make all things right, and that I will get to be with him, and all those who love him, for ever and ever. And because of that, I never have to be alone.
If I were to lose all those on this earth that I love, I will still have my God and this hope.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel loneliness sometimes. I still yearn for the day when all will be made right, and when my God will himself “wipe away every tear from our eyes”:
Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And he said, “Write this down for these words are faithful and true.”
But always must I salt that yearning with hope and faith, knowing that the day will come.
To love, is to make a sacrifice for the benefit of somebody else. My parents’ love was the proof that the things I now hope in are real. The love they showed me, was an extension of the love God showed them, and it had no explanation. My parents neglected much for themselves, just for my benefit, expecting no return on that investment. All they had was the hope that I would one day love them, and love God, like they did.
When you see true love, and the sacrifice that comes with it, play out in real life, that’s where you find the proof that this hope is real. That there is something more that what we see here on earth.
And now I return to the topic of respect. I want to be clear that I post this, to any audience, with the utmost respect for all who read it, and for their opinions. I have shared, very honestly and openly, some of my feelings and what I believe, without passing judgement on anybody. Just as Erlend shared some of his honest feelings and thoughts on life, I have done the same.
Some people associate the label “Christian” with a judgemental attitude that condemns people. I am a “Christian”, someone who seeks to be like my savior Jesus Christ, and I believe everything that the Bible means is true, but I am not the judge. I believe that there will one day be a judgement, and that God is the judge, but as already iterated, I respect everyone. You all have your choices and opinions and neither me nor God will deny you that right.
My God has called me to love and care for his children, and he says that we are all his children. So I share my story, and offer you love, respect, and kindness, in the hope that my experience might benefit you, whoever you are, in some way. I have shared what I believe to be true.
The beautiful thing about truths is that they have a poetic rhyme with other truths. What is true can never contradict with something else that is true, and I pray that some of the rhyme in what I have said will be clear those who read it.
No matter what you believe, I urge you to seek the truth for yourself. Definitely don’t take my word for it! Seek what is true with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you will find it.
And remember, the enemy lies.