I’ve been struggling with some loneliness lately–it is a battle I go through every so often as a single guy. I’ve also been struck with the nature of the human soul and its need of other humans souls. More specifically I’ve been giving no measure of small thought to question, “What kind of relationship does the soul most hunger for to stave off loneliness?”
I ask myself this because my current state of loneliness is not due to my isolation from people.Quite the opposite. I am surrounded with people and as the director of an orphanage with over two dozen children my soul is somewhat bombarded with other souls needing my attention. So how can loneliness of soul exist in a context where people abound?
Here are a few of my thoughts as I wrestle with this question. Though I am surrounded with children who look to me for guidance, encouragement, support and love, my ultimate aim is to raise them to a point where they can leave the “nest” and live apart from me in independence. In other words, the very development of our relationship and intimacy is built on a foundation of knowing the time will come when we will need to drift apart…to grow apart. In short my relationship with them is short-term. It is to be a catalyst to launch them into life and independence–without me. Their memories of me may travel with them–but my soul will not. It must say goodbye and retreat back into memories and photographs, with perhaps an occasional visit in which our souls are temporarily reunited–but only to say goodbye again. But that is the way it is meant to be in every parent-child relationship. There comes a point in time where all the love, all the intimacy, all the time spent is used to launch them into a new life apart from you.
The realization of all this has brought amount a profound sense of loneliness… and it has made me take a deeper look at marriage. Being currently unmarried I can see how marriage is attractive because it is the only relationship you can pour into, and pour into–again and again–with the goal being greater intimacy, closer ties, a stronger bond. There is no goodbye except in death. Therefore life is defined by growing intimacy for the ultimate purpose of greater intimacy–not independence. There is a deep longing in every soul for that place of mutual dependency and permanency. To think that the day may come that I find a woman that I can pour my soul into and who pours back into me “until death do us part” is a very compelling thought.
However even if I were to find myself in a fulfilling marriage one day, I know that it is unrealistic to expect that loneliness will never visit my soul again. This tells me the soul was created for something even beyond the intimacy of marriage to another human. The fact that the soul is a mysterious, immaterial creation–not an accident of colliding molecules–tells us something. The created soul “hungers and thirsts” for its Creator. In the age to come I don’t think there will be any loneliness because the veil between heaven and earth will be removed and God, fully revealed in glory and splendor, will capture the wonder of our soul in ways that even an eternity will never be able to exhaust.
My next post will talk about the human attraction to wonder and how God alone can ultimately satisfy our need to be amazed.