By: Rick Hernandez
Every year without fail, I meet people having a difficult time with the holiday season. Some can verbalize what is difficult for them, but most cannot even tell you why they have such a hard time. Through experience, I have come to understand that, in most cases, their struggle is with loneliness.
Sometimes people struggle because they are away from home and family, driven away by their life circumstances, the difficulty of relationships, hurt, and resentment. Sometimes they struggle because they’ve lost someone close to them, be it the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, and have yet to process the change and recover from the experience. Sometimes they struggle because they just never had someone close to them in the first place. The longing to be someone of importance to somebody is heavy in their hearts and minds, and their sense of self-worth is often tied to these feelings. I know this very well, for I have also been trapped in this web of complicated emotions, and after years of praying, God allowed me to understand two things about loneliness.
One -- To defeat loneliness, we need a solid relationship with God. We are social beings. We are created in the image of God, and we know He is a God of relationship and community. This is evident in His very nature, for He is the Holy Trinity, three in one: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. As He is community and relationship, so are we called to be. In order to share from our cup, the cup must be filled, and we get to fill our cup from our relationship with God. “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Ps 23:5). We can offer love to others without fear from this overflowing cup, for we are not alone. “I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Two -- We need to let go of our expectations and fears. Some of us live in these cages of our own making, cages that keep us from reaching out to others. We hold ourselves separate from our brothers and sisters but long for acknowledgment and companionship. This just does not work. Destroy the cages! Let go of the fears and expectations. “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). If we make an effort to love our brothers and sisters, with God’s help, we can win the fight against loneliness. Doing this may be difficult, but…
“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial, he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13).
It is with hope for all of us that I am filled with excitement this holiday season! May this time of reflection bring us the gift of understanding the great love God has for us. May His overwhelming love fill our cups, that we may share His overflowing goodness with everyone, and that by doing so, we may mend old relationships and create new ones. May all our hearts all be united in Him who loves us infinitely. We are not alone!