In his article "Knowing loneliness," the Reverend J. A. Davidson is onto something. Speaking of "what the Bible calls love, the active caring for and caring about the needs and sufferings of others," he says, "We alleviate our own loneliness as, lovingly, caringly, we help alleviate the loneliness of others." (See excerpts from Rev. Mr. Davidson's article in the column that accompanies this editorial.)
Even a simple act of kindness can serve to restore one's sense of worth as an individual and of connectedness with others. And you never know what it might do for the other person. An account I read in a newspaper article years ago has stayed with me as a potent reminder of the difference unselfed love can make in the life of another. The author had been saved from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco when a pedestrian had remarked casually in passing, "I like your hiking boots."
It is not by accident that our own feelings of loneliness are assuaged by turning away from personal interests and concerns to care lovingly for and about the welfare of others. It has to do with the law of God, the divine Science of being—the fact that we actually were created to reflect divine Love, not to absorb it.
God is Love, and He is always loving us unconditionally. So often, however, the human tendency is to believe we can be separated from ever-present Love. This belief causes us to focus on yearning to be loved by, rather than to express love for, God and our fellowman. But this attitude of thought can lead us to feeling alone and unloved even when we actually are in the presence of those who dearly love us. It is unequivocally true that feelings of being valued and loved come with expressing love. We know and feel at one with the love of God for us much more fully when we take an unselfish interest in others. As the Apostle John says: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." I John 4:7, 8.
Man is God's loved expression—His own spiritual creation—pure and perfect. Man is not a lonely, isolated object, separated from Love and waiting to be loved. As the reflection of Love, you and I are as inseparable from Love as the sunlight is inseparable from the sun.
When you cherish in your heart a deep love for God and man, and with this love reach out in your prayers and deeds to lift others out of the slough of loneliness, you are being who you were created to be. You are fulfilling your eternal purpose as God's loved and loving idea. You are discovering what Rev. Mr. Davidson refers to as your "own sacred individuality."
I've often thought how wonderful it is that God's love isn't directed at certain persons to the exclusion of others, any more than the sun's rays shine only on a select few. Love expresses itself continuously and impartially throughout the universe. So, just as a sunbeam imparts the light and warmth of the sun on all without regard to how it is received, you and I can freely express the inexhaustible love of God toward all. Doing so not only is natural and feels natural; it is the way out of loneliness.
One day when I had been feeling a bit isolated from the care and affection of others, I smiled and said a tender "hello" to a woman in the grocery store who looked totally immersed in sadness. Suddenly her previously drooping face became beautiful as she returned to me a smiling, shining, "someone values me" expression. I took that beautiful picture along with me and let it brighten my thought for the rest of the day.
Loneliness is a phenomenon of a false sense of self—of a supposed mortal personality, separated from God and left to fend for itself. But those worthless feelings of loneliness that are imposing themselves on us can be rejected by turning our thought away from the mortal sense of self and its penchant for self-absorption. If this seems like a tall order ("How am I supposed to turn away from self-concern when I'm so concerned about myself?"), it can be viewed as a simple matter of obedience—of worshiping only the one God, good, and not bowing down to nor serving a powerless impostor, evil. It is God alone who is most capable of caring for us.
Whether our human circumstances would say we are literally alone or surrounded by others, our love for others—our words, our deeds, and especially our prayers—can make a difference.
Even the most selfless, loving individuals can get tricked into submitting to a mortal sense of self with its fears, self-interest, and feelings of self-importance or self-depreciation—but only when they neglect to worship and serve God faithfully as the only cause and creator. Christ Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to reject the temptations to indulge mortal selfhood. He flatly rejected mortality's hypothetical sales representative, saying "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." What happened next? "The devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." Matt. 4:10,11.
Who wouldn't rather have a company of angels ministering to his consciousness than to experience the invasion of a host of aggressive mental suggestions telling him he is isolated and alone. These angels are ours through our faithful worship of and service to God, divine Love. "Angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love, . ." says Mary Baker Eddy, Discoverer of Christian Science, the Science of divine Love. 'Angels are God's representatives. These upward-soaring beings never lead towards self, sin, or materiality, but guide to the divine Principle of all good, whither every real individuality, image, or likeness of God, gathers." Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 298, 299. God is always sending His angels, His thoughts, to us, and they lift us to the recognition of His love and care for us—lift us to see our identity and purpose as Love's reflection. We need only worship Him alone, and devote ourselves to His service through love for God and man.
Whatever our circumstances, we can turn to God in prayer and reject thoughts that do not reflect divine Love. We can cherish deep in our hearts God's great love for us, as well as a pure and genuine love for God, and let divine Love redeem our sense of true worth, purpose, and well-being. We can joyfully dedicate, or rededicate, ourselves to lives of selfless service to God and to our fellowman. "The substance of all devotion," says Mrs. Eddy, "is the reflection and demonstration of divine Love, healing sickness and destroying sin." Ibid., p. 241.
Can you think of a better way to reject loneliness than to dedicate yourself to "the reflection and demonstration of divine Love"? There are plenty of lonely hearts hungry to feel the love of Love through your prayers and kindnesses. Supplying it to them is a sure way to leave loneliness trailing in the dust while you enjoy the ministration of angels.
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