Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Derry James
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000235
00:30 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn and welcome again to
00:32 Issues and Answers. Today we're going to be talking
00:35 about the cousins of fear and
00:38 loneliness. I have a scripture
00:40 that goes along with that. In Psalm 68 let me read to you
00:44 verses 5 and 6. The Bible says: A father of the fatherless and
00:50 a judge and protector of the widows is God in his holy
00:54 habitation. God places the solitary (or the lonely) in
00:58 families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell.
01:03 He leads the prisoners out to prosperity but the rebellious
01:07 dwell in a parched land. We're going to learn today that
01:11 the rebellious here are those who are sinners which can lead
01:15 to loneliness and leave you in a dry spiritual place. But God can
01:20 lead you out of the prison of loneliness and into the
01:23 prosperity of a personal relationship with him and
01:27 enjoying fellowship with many other people. So if you're
01:30 lonely or you know anyone else who's lonely then I just
01:34 encourage you to stay tuned for this wonderful program.
01:37 Our special guest today is someone that I just fell in love
01:41 with the first time I met her. She and I have become great
01:44 friends. I'm pleased to introduce to you Derry James.
01:48 She is a Doctor of Ministry and she is a board certified
01:52 chaplain. She comes to us from Grass Valley, California.
01:56 Derry, I am so glad that you are here today and it's good to have
02:01 you back at 3ABN. Thank you Shelley. I always love
02:04 coming back here and visiting with my friends and sharing with
02:07 our audience. It's always a blessing when you
02:10 come because you've done a lot of spots for us and you've done
02:13 these issues and answers for us before and we're hoping to bring
02:17 you in to do some more programs. One thing I appreciate about you
02:21 is that you are a real prayer warrior so you and I are just
02:24 kind of spiritual cousins aren't we?
02:26 We are indeed, just at a moment's notice we break into
02:29 prayer don't we? Yes, amen. Now speaking of
02:31 cousins though, your title fascinates me talking about the
02:36 cousins of fear and loneliness. How is fear a cousin to
02:40 loneliness? Shelley, we're not going to talk
02:43 a lot about fear today, but I
02:45 think I just would like to
02:47 introduce that topic and maybe
02:49 give some definition to different types of fear before
02:52 we go into the loneliness part and how they interact together.
02:55 Okay, that would be great.
02:57 As we think about fear, there is perceived fear. For example, I
03:02 heard a story of some friends that went to visit their friends
03:06 They came into the house. The friends said come on in and sit
03:10 down. They sat down on the sofa and there in front of them right
03:15 after they sat down sat a huge Doberman and the Doberman was
03:19 just showing its teeth. They sat there and they didn't want to
03:24 move and they couldn't wait for the host to come in and get the
03:28 dog out of there. They just sat there frozen. They were afraid
03:31 that dog was going to attack them just sitting there showing
03:35 his teeth. When the host came in he said, oh I'm so sorry. Grace
03:40 was sitting here and she's smiling at you. All you had to
03:43 do was reach out and pet her and she would left.
03:46 I think that would have gotten my attention too.
03:48 So that was perceived fear, you know. The dog didn't mean
03:51 any harm; he was actually smiling. And then there's
03:55 perceived fear. I can remember when I was a child and we were
03:58 all sleeping on the living room floor during the holidays and
04:02 I woke up to a sound and, as a little girl, saw these shadows
04:05 on the wall and I was convinced that someone was outside the
04:08 window trying to break in and it was just a bush and the tree
04:11 was moving it. So these are perceived fears that can
04:14 actually cause terror. Then we have genuine fear. Like the time
04:19 I walked into my house and there was a picture of me drawn on my
04:24 window. Someone had definitely come into my house, broken in,
04:29 and my life was in danger. So genuine fear needs to be dealt
04:33 with. Perceived fear we need to let go of. But then we have
04:38 imagined fears. These could be simple things. It could be going
04:42 to church and a dear friend didn't speak to us today and we
04:47 walked right by and so suddenly we imagine that they don't like
04:52 us or they don't care about us or we're not important or there
04:56 is a problem that's developed between us. We may have an
05:00 imagined fear that if a family member isn't home on time that
05:04 something has happened. Or if someone calls when the
05:08 phone rings at 3 o'clock in the morning. We never expect good
05:11 news. It alarms us and we wake up and we're just expecting a
05:15 bad report. Right, right. Well it's those
05:18 imagined fears that actually can roll right into loneliness
05:23 because when we imagine that we're not being accepted or that
05:28 there's a problem, then we tend to isolate instead of deal with
05:33 things directly often times. And as we begin to isolate if other
05:37 people don't recognize we have chosen to isolate and they don't
05:42 draw us out, then we begin to feel more lonely, more unloved,
05:46 more unaccepted and we have set ourselves up. We've actually set
05:51 ourselves up. So fear can lead to this state
05:55 of mind where you are isolating yourself from others and it
06:00 actually is... loneliness is a state of mine, is it not?
06:04 Well that's true, that's exactly true. And I think that we also
06:11 need to recognize it as a sin because often times it's because
06:18 of our pride or it's a form of selfishness and then that
06:23 intensifies. So it's' this little root that can begin to
06:28 build. I'd like to define loneliness for a minute because
06:33 there is an undesired aloneness that we have to deal with but
06:38 then there is actually the solitude part which is just the opposite which is a
06:42 desired aloneness and that's healthy; that's a healthy thing.
06:47 And we'll talk a little bit more about that.
06:49 But before we do because I know there's someone who's sitting
06:52 out there that something that you just said that loneliness is
06:57 a sin. It can be a sin. It's not always as sin thought. Because
07:01 there are times when you are forced into a situation or
07:04 perhaps you've lost a loved one and you go through that natural
07:09 sense of loneliness. So it's not always a sin. But something else
07:13 that you said, you know, I'm thinking about Hebrews 13 that
07:17 says that Jesus is always with us; that he never leaves us or
07:21 forsakes us. And there are people who almost choose in a
07:26 selfish way to isolate themselves from others because
07:31 of fear and they do suffer that loneliness and it is almost a
07:36 sin. It's like they are not recognizing the presence of the
07:41 Lord or they're choosing to close God out.
07:43 I was just going to say, they're also pulling away from God.
07:46 They isolate from people but then they begin to isolate from
07:50 God and then they begin to question God.
07:52 Well, let's define loneliness, Shelley. Loneliness is solitary,
07:59 it's without company, it's destitute of sympathetic or
08:03 friendly companionship. It's depressed by being alone. It can
08:09 be sorry for yourself or self pity and weepy, you can get
08:13 weepy, and it actually can develop into severe illness.
08:17 So loneliness can go into depression; I mean it can make
08:21 a chemical change in your brain, right?
08:25 Right. Okay. And it's kind of the dark night of the soul.
08:28 You know people go through these tragedies or these
08:33 difficult situations in life and we come apart to deal with it
08:37 and then we become so isolated and so alone that we cut
08:43 ourselves off from other people, we cut ourselves out from God,
08:45 and it truly can be a dark night of the soul.
08:49 I've been there. As have I, and I think anybody
08:52 that's going through a really severe case of loneliness knows
08:57 what that's like. But, may I ask you a question? I have a friend,
09:01 I recall this story so vividly because she was my college
09:06 roommate. She married, she was
09:08 living on a ranch and I had
09:11 called her one day just to catch up and she told me, she said,
09:15 Shelley, I am so lonely. She and her husband were quite isolated
09:19 from others. I think their closest neighbor was maybe 50
09:23 miles away. So she was in the middle of this huge ranch and
09:27 she said the loneliest time of my life is in the evenings when
09:31 comes in from working outside and she said we're in the same
09:35 room but there's no real communion or communication.
09:39 So you can even feel alone or feel that loneliness when you're
09:45 with someone, right? Absolutely. Yes we are going
09:49 to address that precise thing that you have the loneliness
09:54 even when you're not alone. So what does that feel like. Let's
09:58 talk about some definitives of what that loneliness feels like
10:02 that probably our audience can identify with. Feelings are
10:05 obviously depression. We've talked about how it can go into
10:08 even deep depression. But a person that is lonely feels
10:13 detached. They feel like a zombie, they feel hollow,
10:17 sometimes even totally empty. They can feel intense emotion,
10:24 vulnerable, helpless, hopeless. It's a powerful emotion and they
10:30 can have a lack of direction, a lack of hope, a lack of purpose,
10:36 it gets to the point where there are no goals, there are no plans
10:41 Values are questioned and there is a loss of significance. We're
10:47 talking about intense, intense feelings and responses and
10:52 reactions as we deal with the aloneness and loneliness that
10:58 isn't chosen. So I'm listening to you and
11:01 what's coming into my mind right now, Derry, is that loneliness
11:05 and when we entertain loneliness for an extended period of time
11:09 it's almost like a switch that can shut down the rest of our
11:13 emotions and it's like we're turning off from the world.
11:18 Some people may not recognize it, but they are lonely by
11:23 choice. Is that correct? Because there are people who will say
11:28 you know I go to church and I come home and I don't think
11:32 anybody really even notices me. Have you ever had somebody
11:36 say nobody talked to me, but what they didn't recognize was
11:39 that they went in and they sat down and maybe it was their
11:44 fears, but that they sat on the back row and hopped up and left
11:48 and they kept their head down and they just scurried in and
11:52 scurried out. These things happen but it's not always a
11:56 choice but sometimes it is a choice.
11:58 In your sharing that it made me think of a little comment:
12:03 To have friends, we have to prove ourselves friendly.
12:05 You know, that we have to reach out as well as expecting people
12:09 to reach out to us. And when we have ourself in this kind of a
12:13 deep hole, it's hard to do that, you know, because we're rather
12:17 cocooned ourselves. But if we think of loneliness, there's
12:23 actually an implied absence of God in that whole thing and we
12:28 can think of David in Psalms 142 and 143 who cries out.
12:33 He just cries out to God and he wonders about where God is and
12:38 why God isn't there. And Job; Job expressed it over and over
12:43 again, particularly in Job 23. But Jesus expressed it on the
12:48 cross too, that absence of God his Father in his life. That
12:56 aloneness. So the feelings of aloneness can be misunderstood
13:01 when we're going through that. But also it's very easy to
13:05 misunderstand other people as we are in this state of
13:10 loneliness. You know, I'm thinking of a text in Hebrews
13:14 12:14 & 15 when you're talking about that we can feel lonely
13:18 even when we are with other people. It says pursue peace
13:23 with all people and holiness without which no one will see
13:27 the Lord, looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace
13:31 of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause
13:37 trouble and by this many become defiled. You know, when we're
13:41 feeling alone even when we're with people then we begin to
13:46 develop resentments and bitterness and it's interesting
13:50 that when we don't come and talk it out, if we don't
13:54 confront people that we think there may be a problem that
13:57 we're having, this is all an imaginary case that we've set
14:00 ourselves up to just get into a deeper, deeper hole.
14:04 But, Derry, what about the person who is very shy by
14:07 nature and they've grown up and they're more introverted than
14:12 extroverted, what about that person when they're in this
14:17 pain; because loneliness can be very painful and I think you
14:21 said that you've been through it, I've been through it and
14:24 sometimes it's circumstantial. You know circumstances, you may
14:29 be cut off from your family. I'm just thinking about this last
14:34 Christmas when everyone was snowed in in the airports and
14:38 maybe if you were traveling alone and you ended up spending
14:42 Christmas in an airport isolated from your family, totally
14:46 surrounded by strangers, if you were an introvert, how painfully
14:52 alone you must have felt. But is it not true that in a sense,
14:57 as a Christian in particular, that being alone we should never
15:02 feel loneliness recognizing that God is the God of relationship
15:07 and that he is with us always.
15:09 Absolutely. Shelley, you're talking about that shy person
15:14 and some people are alone and comfortable with that. They
15:19 enjoy their aloneness. But we're talking about the person that
15:24 needs others and so they need to think outside of themselves
15:30 a bit. For the shy person, we'll talk about this more later,
15:34 we'll give some actual tips on how to come out of our
15:39 loneliness but for that shy person, if they are not
15:43 comfortable being communicative face to face, they could write a
15:47 note. They could do something that's thinking outside of
15:50 themselves and and reaching out. When we think of aloneness and
15:57 when we think of broken relationships, those are the kind of things that are
16:02 difficult to deal with, when we have that lack of intimacy any
16:07 longer with people that are around us that we love. It's
16:10 feeling alone when there are people with us. So we have two
16:14 groups of people really; we have those that are actually alone,
16:18 living alone, they're alone for whatever reasons and then we
16:23 have people that feel alone in the midst of family or
16:26 friends. But the answers are the same. I was just thinking of a
16:34 scripture here in Philippians 2:3 - 4. It says: Let nothing
16:41 be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of
16:46 mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Let each
16:51 of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the
16:55 interests of others. See this is really key; it's scriptural, but
17:00 it's a key to stop thinking of ourselves and think of others.
17:04 And even in our pain and the things we're going through it's
17:09 trying to refocus. I remember when my sister was
17:12 living in Chicago and she called me once and she was really
17:15 lonely because she wasn't working, her husband was gone
17:19 all day and he didn't get in till late at night and had to
17:23 take the AO coming home. She would call me and she was going
17:26 into depression because her loneliness was over a protracted
17:30 period of time. I told her, I said, You know what you need to
17:33 do, you need to quit focusing on yourself. Go volunteer at the
17:37 Salvation Army, go volunteer anywhere; and when she did take
17:41 that advice it totally turned her life around because her
17:45 focus was so much on self and just being isolated when she
17:49 didn't want to be. But when she got out and reached out to
17:53 others it totally changed her life.
17:56 Yes. There's a creation account that I'd like to go back and
18:01 talk about because I like to tie everything back to the
18:04 scripture. You know, humans were created maybe out of loneliness,
18:08 God wanted relationship. I don't know that God was lonely. He had
18:12 the angels and so on around him. But Adam was lonely for a
18:18 companion and what did God say in scripture. He said, It is not
18:22 good for man to be alone. That came straight from the mouth
18:27 of God. So Eve was provided for companionship for Adam. It is
18:33 also interesting to me that when Cain slew Abel, what was the
18:38 judgment? It was a curse. He had to be
18:42 alone. That's right, he was sent out
18:44 alone and he even said this is more than I can bear which kind
18:48 of makes me think of you know punishment when you're in prison
18:52 What is the worst punishment?
18:54 Solitary confinement. That's right. So this is an
18:57 amazing state of mind, it's an amazing thing that can happen
19:03 to us in that aloneness and lonely time.
19:07 Okay, we only have about eight minutes left, so let's talk
19:12 about some therapeutic actions, how we can come out of
19:16 loneliness. What do you say to people who are listening to us
19:20 right now. How do they overcome this loneliness?
19:23 Shelley, I think that before we go into that I'd like to back
19:27 track a little bit, because in order to come out of it we have
19:31 to be aware that we're in it. So let's talk about how can we
19:34 be aware, awareness of loneliness, because loneliness
19:39 is actually a control of our heart. First of all we need to
19:44 recognize and admit that we are lonely. Then we have to look at
19:49 ourselves and think what inner need is not being met that
19:54 this is happening to me and how can I get them met. Then if I
19:59 can't, how can I adjust under these limitations or these
20:04 circumstances. It puts us in a position where we need to
20:09 actually make some new choices, make some conscious choices.
20:17 We can't confuse the person that is actually alone or even alone
20:24 and married, we cannot confuse sexual deprivation with
20:31 loneliness. We need to actually admit just like in your advice
20:38 to your sister, we need to admit to ourselves that
20:40 inactivity can contribute to loneliness in our lives and
20:47 that loneliness itself can lead to a spiritual development where
20:53 we need spiritual healing.
20:54 Yes, because loneliness can lead to self-pity and self-pity is
20:59 straight from the pits of hell. That's right. It is.
21:02 So I think if we have these awarenesses then we can move
21:05 into the therapeutic solutions. So it's admitting, it's taking
21:10 a kind of an inventory of ourselves.
21:11 You know, I'm the type of person that required some solitude.
21:16 I don't get nearly enough, but I don't function well without
21:21 it. So we're not talking about if you choose to be alone.
21:25 There's nothing wrong. If you're
21:27 happy and you're alone, you know,
21:29 you might be spending great amounts of time in deep study
21:33 of the Bible or you may be doing a great work. That's not what
21:36 we're talking about. We're talking about people who find
21:40 it painful, they're suffering this condition of loneliness.
21:44 Remember Jesus even took time to
21:48 be alone. So there are benefits
21:50 in taking this solitude, this
21:53 alone time, this healthy alone
21:56 time. Exactly. Okay, so some therapeutic actions would be
22:01 number one, not to blame anyone else for our loneliness.
22:06 Sometimes we want to shift the blame and make it someone else's
22:11 responsibility to get us out of that loneliness that we're going
22:16 through. So we can't shift the blame. Then it will help if we
22:21 stop living in the past and we look forward to the future,
22:26 because living in the past puts us in a position often of living
22:32 with bitterness, guilt, some of those unhappy feelings that are
22:37 causing us to blame ourselves, regrets that make us feel
22:43 unworthy maybe to be with other people.
22:46 Amen. You know, I had a scripture. Let me turn to that
22:49 real quickly here because Isaiah 43:18-19 says: Do not earnestly
23:12 remember the former things neither consider the things of
23:16 old. Behold I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth; do
23:19 you not perceive it. So if you're living in the past,
23:23 remember Isaiah 43:18-19, God saying quit looking in the rear
23:27 view mirror because you can't go forward, you can't see the
23:31 new thing that I'm doing. He wants you to look forward to the
23:35 plan that he has for your life. Right? Amen, Yes.
23:40 Well, another therapeutic point might be to realize there's no
23:45 shame in being alone. Sometimes when we go through death or loss
23:51 divorce, we're not used to being alone so we feel like we're very
23:57 conspicuous and again we begin to cocoon. People aren't really
24:02 paying any attention. They're not recognizing or noticing as
24:07 much as we might think they are. So there's no shame in being
24:12 alone. We need to find the joy and the possibilities of that
24:17 alone time as well. Then to get help we have to give help.
24:23 That's exactly right. I think that if we don't hang
24:27 onto anything else, that's a very important point to remember
24:31 that in the very fact of giving help we are helping ourselves
24:35 heal and get out of this whole dilemma.
24:37 May I share a quick story. We have a widow in our church and
24:42 she was devastated by her husband's death. She had married
24:47 quite early, had a background of growing up with severe abuse
24:52 and he had rescued her from this and they had had a very
24:56 beautiful happy marriage for over 30 to 35 years maybe and
25:00 she was so devastated. We were all so concerned. You know what
25:04 she has done now? On Friday evenings she has opened up her
25:09 home to a vespers program. She recognized her need for company
25:14 and she started becoming involved herself and giving help
25:18 to others who had no place to go. I mean she volunteers for
25:22 potluck teams and she's so involved in the church now and
25:26 we've watched her blossom, it's really been wonderful.
25:31 Actually that ties in with our next therapeutic point, Shelley,
25:36 because it's simply do something do something. Put your energy
25:40 into something else, whether it's reaching out to people or
25:45 whether it's a new hobby or interest but do something to
25:49 get yourself active and involved because so often you're shutting
25:54 out life, you know, and you're not participating in life at
25:59 all. Replace loneliness with love and those all tie in
26:03 together. Okay, you're going to have to explain that one,
26:07 replace loneliness with love.
26:08 Well, when we're so isolated and we're so hurting and we're
26:14 nursing those hurts then we're not reaching out, but as we put
26:19 others before ourselves just like we read in scripture, think
26:22 of others as more important than yourselves and we make an
26:26 investment into others and it may even be a pet for a while.
26:30 The more we begin to invest the more we can allow ourselves to
26:35 open up those feelings and let that love begin to flow. So let
26:39 the loneliness begin to express itself in love and in loving
26:44 ways and actions. I liked your scripture that you opened with
26:48 today and I'd like to use that maybe as one of our closing
26:52 scriptures as well that God takes the lonely and he places
26:57 them in families. God doesn't want us to be lonely. God is a
27:01 God of relationship and he wants that personal relationship
27:05 with us and he wants to have that us have that relationship
27:09 with others. That's what we're here for, that's what it's all
27:13 about, to interact with each other and to have fullness of
27:17 joy and fullness of life. Jesus promises that he will restore
27:22 our soul. In Psalm 23:3 that's a promise we can cling to; Jesus
27:27 will restore our soul. No matter how we feel or what we're going
27:32 through Jesus says I will never leave you or forsake you.
27:37 So even if we think we're alone there is the promise that Jesus
27:43 will never leave us or forsake us.
27:44 Derry, we really appreciate you being here today. Thank you for
27:48 coming. For those of you at home please look to the Lord and he
27:52 can bring you out of your loneliness.
27:53 May he richly bless you.