I’ve been thinking a lot about you.
Perhaps it’s because I have a new friend who describes himself with this one simple word — lonely.
If my friend is home alone on the couch, the word takes on a life of its own and he can hear the loneliness inside him whispering, “You’re alone because no one cares.”
If my friend were at a football stadium standing on the 50-yard line with 100,000 people surrounding him, he would call himself lonely.
If he were at a party, even when forcing a smile that cons the muscles in his cheeks, my friend would call himself lonely.
At the grocery store, in a crowded church, on a walk around town or on a drive to clear the fog in his head, the persistent neighbor in his head sighs the words, “You are invisible.”
My friend recently confided that loneliness sometimes even makes the case he should end his life.
“You’re a burden.”
“No one would miss you.”
“Your family would be better off.”
Those things aren’t true, of course. But when your constant companion is loneliness, the truth feels like a secret hidden in a book you can’t pry open.
If you're reading this, you've likely been an acquaintance of loneliness at some point in your life. Maybe it simply passes by for a few seconds on Monday afternoons. Perhaps it parks in your living room for hours on quiet Saturday nights.
In the worst cases, maybe loneliness has moved in and taken over your home, your work, your mind.
If so, remember that while you might feel like the only one who's ever given free room and board to loneliness, you are not alone.
In fact, you are never alone.
I promise there is someone waiting to help.
Have family? Stop what you're doing right now and tell them you're lonely and in need.
Have friends? Make a call, send a text, knock on someone's door and tell them you fear loneliness will never leave.
If family or friends are not close, or available, or responsive, go to a street corner and shout at the top of your lungs that you need someone, anyone to talk to.
Then, listen. Because I promise either heaven, a stranger or both will come to your side.
Most importantly, if any point you feel that loneliness or any of its many cousins — sadness, desertedness, worthlessness, forsakenness, depression — are winning the war and whispering that ending your life is the only way out, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Because no matter how long you’ve been surrounded by lonely, you are never truly alone.
To my friend and anyone else trapped in the firm grasp of loneliness, I testify that while I don’t know much, I do know that God is real. I know that his Son is the living, perfect Christ. I know that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Lord and the great comforter.
Please, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Please, don’t be afraid to accept it.
Please, don’t listen to the lies of loneliness.
You’re not a burden.
People would miss you.
Your family would not be better off.
And so I end where I began, with my lonely friend. It’s true; I’ve been thinking a lot about you. Because it’s time to start defining yourself by a much more powerful word.