In “Lucky You”, Drew Barrymore plays a girl new to the Vegas scene who falls for the bad-boy, compulsive gambler. The movie wasn’t great, and Drew Barrymore’s character was one of the least believable, but despite these flaws, she did have one noteworthy saying. As the two lovebirds stare at the city’s light, she utters “I think everyone is just trying to avoid being lonely.” The setting was contrived, but the words full of veracity. Most people are just trying to avoid being lonely. Its why people obsess over divergent things – drugs, relationships, church, cars, etc. As Tim McGraw sings “We’re all looking for meaning in our lives, we follow the road that leads us to drugs or Jesus.”
What I think has been lost is that there is a difference between being lonely and being alone. Loneliness concerns having an unfulfilled need – a sense of abandonment and lack of validation. Being alone simply means having solitude. For many, the fact that they are alone brings on feeling of loneliness because they consider their isolation as a form of destitution. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. Being alone can simply mean that there is no one else around. Maybe not a preferable situation, but an instructive one. Because in our singularity we can learn a lot about who we are and who we are not. We come to discover what life is like without our masks and we feel those things that we are scared to acknowledge in community. Being alone shouldn’t be avoided, it should be celebrated because its when we are most vulnerable with ourselves, and with God.
I know why people try to avoid being lonely. God made us for community and when we are deprived of that our soul suffers. But being in community doesn’t mean never being alone. It means having people to be alone with. And its trusting that a time of solitude will make the community all the sweeter.