Only the Lonely

I wonder if Jesus would have tweeted or updated his status when he faced the certainty of his pending ordeal. To whom would he have reached out? From whom might he have expected a reply? Who would have responded?

In spite of social media–or in some cases because of it?–there seem to be plenty of lonely people in today’s world. Ever notice how many of your friends post a status on Facebook to which no one responds; and the only way to deal with it is to post more desperate, meaningless details of the day, or even the life? Or have you taken note of the people truly lost in the crowd, walking with a mob yet by themselves, with no conversation partner? Or the ones who almost never venture out any longer for fear of so many things, such as non-acceptance, isolating ridicule (almost always less real than imagined), the pain of watching so many others having the enjoyment of companions, or even the fear of losing the one piece of identity they are sure of–that they are lonely. The Beatles’ song from long ago haunted me even then:

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby
Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie
Writing the words of a sermon that no-one will hear
No-one comes near
Look at him working
Darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No-one was saved

All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?
Lyrics from eLyrics.net

The Eleanor Rigbys and Father McKenzies are all around. Whether the original lyrics intended to mock the faith or not, they apply to many in ministry, who die in the church and dig the graves with no one coming. Jesus knows them all by name. Jesus knows them all by experience because he was willing to become one of them.

Early in his public ministry Jesus submitted to the baptism of John, a baptism of identification with humanity in all its faults and frailties. By doing so he was declaring, “I’m with them.” In referring later to the baptism he would yet undergo, that identification was made complete as he suffered humiliation, abandonment, misunderstanding, injustice, physical pain–and loneliness. No one came, no one got it, no one sat with him, no one prayed with him.

Because of the things he suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who suffer, as the writer to the Hebrews declared. It is difficult to imagine the intensity of the loneliness, the isolation that the fully human Jesus experienced, so that he might come to the aid of those who find themselves outside the fold of any meaningful human interaction. Perhaps only the lonely ones can begin to grasp how much it matters that the Lord knows; and in spite of the lyrics above, he does come.

2 thoughts on “Only the Lonely

  1. Some friends and I have been having similar conversations in recent weeks. We lamented the fact (or rejoiced in the fact, depends how you look at it, I guess) that our Facebook friends seem more real than our real-life friends. I am an Introvert by nature, so reaching out is difficult for me, at least in the real world, and I tend to be stung by rejection, judgment and other hurts inflicted by well-meaning (or maybe not-so-well-meaning) people I come in contact with at church or other groups. I keep trying to “make meaningful connections,” as our pastors say, but those connections are far from meaningful, and sometimes I feel those attempts widen chasms that I see between myself and others. As a result, I find myself building more walls and closing myself in even more.
    I take comfort in the fact that Jesus felt isolation, rejection, and other human hurts, but sometimes I struggle with that. At times I find myself feeling more isolated than I have ever been, despite having so many points of connection with people, whether it’s church, my kids’ school, my lyme support group, Facebook, or whatever. How is this hurting my relationship with Jesus? How is it hurting my ministry?

  2. I gave up Facebook, Twitter, Path, and Instagram for Lent, and I can tell the difference already. I’m MORE interested now in those I get to see more often than others on Facebook. I’m already invested In their lives and it translates so easily onto social media. I can now look at these “tools” as ways to enhance those relationships I already have instead of substitutes or time fillers/wasters.

    Having the 40 days off, also made me realize what a false salve social media is. I wonder if we don’t confuse loneliness with impatience sometimes. We want that next social interaction now, instead of with creating them or waiting patiently for will come into our lives next.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s