I think loneliness is one of the things we don’t talk about enough in the Church. With the rise of social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, it is easy to see how much of an emphasis our society puts on popularity. How many followers can you get, or how many ‘friends’ do you have? When I was in eighth grade I finally got an Instagram, and that was the first time I ever noticed the social measurements involved. I remember reaching 100 followers and thinking I had made it in the world, only to discover that some of my friends had over a thousand followers. I remember thinking it was awesome when I got to 10 likes on a picture, only to be told that I was only getting 10 likes because people thought my content (which consisted of Bible verses and horse pictures) was too boring.
I remember wondering why someone would want to control what I posted about my life. My life was my faith and my riding, If they didn’t want to see that, they didn’t have to follow me. But after hearing this, I began to pay attention to the things posted on social media. Bible verses were reserved for Instagram bios, and horses were the emojis that equestrians would choose to put at the end of their names. The pictures were all selfies, or focused on relationships with others. Nothing posted was ever negative, as if it was meant to make their lives look perfect. I began to hate having a social media profile, and the demands of people around me, as I gave in to a lot of what I was told about my personal Instagram.
As I began to listen my list of followers seemed to grow, but I noticed that my happiness with my friends began to decrease. The number of people I ate lunch with would dwindle as my amount of followers increased. My happiness, and the parts of myself that I shared with others, shrank. More and more frequently, I began to notice the emphasis people around me put on being popular on social media. Suddenly, I wasn’t just competing to be noticed and accepted in school, I was competing to be noticed and accepted by people I had never even interacted with. Though I had a following on social media, and a couple hundred Facebook friends, I’d never felt more alone. Once again, I’m stuck in that same position. It’s like social media has completely changed the definition of a friend. It promotes things like gossip, and takes away our ability to feel as if we really have friends.
Loneliness is one of the reasons I began reading books like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. A book was an escape for me, and it gave me a chance to feel connected to a world. I think this is why fiction books have been such a big part of so many lives. We crave something more than what the world is offering, and loneliness has spread enough that a fictional escape has become more of a friend than real people. Loneliness was the initial reason why I began writing – I wanted people like me to find that escape from the suffocation of loneliness. I think we read because reading is easier than real relationships. You don’t get into fights with a fictional character (you might not agree with every decisions, but they can’t ever disagree with you). I’ve found that it’s easier to start a conversation with someone if we agree on the books we like. In high school, it was reading and stories that helped me find my best friends. What I’ve come to realize is that social media is destroying the way we look at relationships. But reading, and putting emotion into words, can help us to remember how to build relationships and connect with others.
“What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31
This is one of my favorite bible verses in the Bible. Going through school, it was a constant reminder to me that I wasn’t alone, even when I felt alone in the world. But this begs the question; can we feel lonely if God is for us? It stands to reason that if the great, almighty God who created the universe counts us as a friend, then that is all we will ever need, right? Wrong.
Growing up in the church, it was engrained in my mind that God was all I ever needed. Guess what? That isn’t what the Bible says. The Bible tells us that God’s grace and His power are sufficient for us, and that He will give us everything we need. If God was all we needed, then why would He offer us everything we need? Moreover, if God was all we needed, then why did He create this world for us?
Genesis 1-2 tells us about the creation of the world. He creates man out of dust, but He doesn’t stop there. God recognizes that man is alone, and He decides that man should not be alone. God creates animals, and then realizes that animals aren’t enough. They’re great, but they aren’t enough. So He takes a rib from the side of man, and He creates woman. God recognized, even from the start, that mankind was meant to be in community with others. God is enough for us because He knows what we need. I’ve been taking a class on spiritual growth, and one of the things my professor has been talking about is the idea of community. One of the things I’ve come to believe is this: the world rejects God, and it always has, but now more than ever because we don’t even know how to live in community with each other. If we cannot engage with the world, which we can see so easily in front of us, then how are we able to engage with a God and develop a relationship with Him through prayer? The only way to combat loneliness is through the church, because we have to stand as a community of believers for others to lean on.
One Of US by New Politics
“It takes a mighty fall
Before you learn to walk.
What are you living for (living for, living)?
‘Cause life’s too short to take it as it goes
So stand up tall, and let the whole world know.”