Proclaiming a changeless Christ in a changing world

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Blogs > The Long Loneliness

The Long Loneliness

For as long as I can remember I have loved to read.  When I was in elementary school I read through the entire series of Hardy Boys detective stories.  I can still recall finishing the last one.  I savored each and every page with a bittersweet feeling.  I wondered what I would read next.  I worried that I would never find a book that I would enjoy as much as I had enjoyed the Hardy Boys adventures.    

It took me a while, but by junior high I had fallen in love with a new genre of literature:  biographies.  I read the lives of men like Jim Bowie and Francis Marion.  I was fascinated by the likes of Genghis Khan and Hannibal.  I read of explorers such as Roald Amundsen.  To this day biographies remain my favorite type of literature.  I am inspired, encouraged, and challenged by the lives and faith of men and women like Corrie ten Boom, Amy Carmichael, Eric Liddell, and, of course, Martin Luther.

One of my all time favorite biographies was written by Dorothy Day.  Day entitled her autobiography: “The Long Loneliness.”  That’s an interesting title, don’t you think?

Have you ever been lonely?  What happened?  How did you get over it?   

I can vividly recall a time in my life when I was lonely.  I had just arrived at RAF Greenham Common Air Force Base in England.  And the worst case of loneliness in my life descended upon me.  It caught me almost totally off guard.  After all, I had already been in the Air Force for a year and a half.   I had just spent a year at an installation in Oklahoma.  I thought that I was immune to loneliness.  But I was mistaken.  It was a month or more before my loneliness slowly went away. 

I’ve never forgotten the long loneliness of my early days in England.  During the eight years I served as a Director of Christian Outreach, one of the ministries that I started was:  “Lonely No More.”  “Lonely No More” was a support group for people who battle loneliness.

I don’t want to spoil Dorothy Day’s story for you.  It is worth your effort to find her autobiography. And it is worth your time to read her tale.  I will share with you the last lines of her book: 

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with a community. . . .”            

Dorothy Day wasn’t the only Christian to reflect on the long loneliness.  Mother Teresa did as well. During her decades of ministry to the poorest of the poor, the Saint of Calcutta remarked:  “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

The Bible has the last word on the long loneliness.  In Psalm 68:6 David declares:  “God sets the lonely in families.”  He does this ultimately through the family of His Son.  (See Mark 3:31-35 and Hebrews 3:10-18)

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