My Antidote to Loneliness
Updated: Jun 11, 2022
By Aw Soon Beng
A couple of months ago, Rev Lee Fatt Ping delivered an excellent sermon during Sunday worship service, where he covered the topic on Coping with Loneliness comprehensively.
During our Bible class session that day, our group had quite a lively discussion on the subject. When we were asked to say what was the one thing we had learned or wished to share with the group, the word “antidote” came to my mind. As a kid, I remember watching Cantonese martial arts movies where the hero was responsible for getting hold of the “antidote” (also known in Chinese as 解药) to release the damsel in distress from the villain’s poison or spell.
I wanted to go straight into the real-life application of God’s word in my life when it comes to this very personal feeling of loneliness, which I think everyone has experienced or even feared at one point or another in their life. So I asked myself: what is my antidote to loneliness?
Loneliness is the feeling that we are all alone. That no one cares. That we do not matter. While there could be many causes to loneliness, sometimes, we could feel lonely because we are focusing too much on ourselves. If everyone in the room is waiting for someone else to approach him/her, then no one is making the first move and everyone in the room can feel lonely, despite being among many people.
Philippians 2:4 wisely exhorts us to “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” While the context of this verse is about humility, namely concern for the needs of others, being the basis of unity in the church, I’ve also personally experienced how putting others first, can also on occasion, be for my own benefit.
I recall my role in the Varsity Christian Fellowship (VCF) when I was the Contact Group Coordinator (CG Coord) for the Arts & Social Science Faculty in NUS. My task was to organise the formation of Contact Groups and to encourage every VCF member to be part of a Contact Group – much like a cell group or bible class group. I ended up looking out for new visitors or students who looked uncomfortable standing on their own during our VCF meetings. After getting to know them, I would introduce them to other VCF members and encourage them to join one of the Contact Groups.
It was only in hindsight that I realised I was also helping myself when I thought I was just helping others. In trying to make people feel at home and fit in, I ended up helping myself to feel at home and fit in. Instead of looking at my “own things” and waiting to be welcomed or be greeted by others, I was looking at “the things of others” and ended up becoming too busy and happy to feel lonely in a lecture hall full of new faces.
Shortly after hearing Rev Lee’s sermon, I came across an article in the Life & Culture section of The Business Times entitled, “The secrets of lasting friendships”. The article talked about “aggressive friendship”, where one devotes a lot of time to reach out to friends regularly and meaningfully. One quote stood out to me: “Our happiness in life, as well as our health and fulfillment, is hugely dependent on our ability to be skillfully understanding of and considerate toward others”.
The article also mentioned some tips about communications skills, which included: ”…throwing the conversation back and forth without interrupting, adding something meaningful to what the other person just said, telling jokes, reminiscing about the past, anticipating how the other person might react to your comment so you can frame it a way that’s most helpful.” While the secular world can teach us a thing or two about every man looking out “also on the things of others”, it doesn’t stop here.
I am reminded by the Biblical exhortation from Rev Lee’s sermon to cope with my feelings of loneliness:
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Truly, remembering that God is always with us and helping others – that is my antidote to loneliness!