I’ve gotta be honest. I’ve been spending a lot of time alone. And while I sometimes revel in the chance to get away from people and read another Kurt Vonnegut book, more often than not, I wish I were surrounded with friends.
One more confession: I’m a pretty awesome guy. At the risk of sounding like that cocky guy that everyone hates, let me explain. I’m a nice guy; I lived in Europe for three years; I speak a couple languages; I have a great sense of humor; I love reading, writing, and have a fairly extensive vocabulary; I have a tattoo; I’m that guy that rides his road bike to school and work no matter the weather all in an attempt to use less gas; I eat sushi and have an broad collection of indie music; I care deeply about different social issues. All that is to say I’m a pretty interesting guy. Yet, I still find myself alone when I don’t want to be and struggle with loneliness, which then causes me to struggle with depression. On those nights I’m alone, I will usually read, check my email a couple times, reminisce about my Euro-life, and catch a couple episodes of Scrubs.
While Scrubs may be one of my favorite shows (although a distant second to Arrested Development), I don’t know if it’s the healthiest thing for me. While I laugh at most of the ridiculous scenarios, I often focus on the tight friendship between JD and Turk, two of the main characters. I see them make complete idiots of themselves, but at the end of the day (or at least the end of the show), they always have the other’s back. I then look at my own life and wonder why I don’t have that.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible takes place shortly after David has been anointed king. Saul is understandably enraged and plots to kill David. But thanks to the heroics of Saul’s son, Jonathan, David is able to escape. But the final scene between Jonathan and David pulls at my heart like few stories do.
Jonathan gave his quiver and bow to the boy and sent him back to town. After the servant was gone, David got up from his hiding place beside the boulder, then fell on his face to the ground—three times prostrating himself! And then they kissed one another and wept, friend over friend, David weeping especially hard. Jonathan said, “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God’s name, saying, ‘God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!’” (1 Samuel 20:41-42, The Message).
Friendship, the type of friendship where one person would do absolutely anything for the other, seems to be rare today. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that the example given to us by David and Jonathan is supposed to be something that is available to everyone.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this God-given gift has devolved to a Hollywood production. Maybe the friendship of the 21st Century has become whatever is on Myspace and Facebook. But something in me screams that it is not. I refuse to believe that the thousands of random people we call friends on the Internet are comparable to the relationship of David and Jonathan.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Facebook and Myspace are great, convenient ways to keep in contact with friends in other parts of the world. But when those virtual realities begin to replace real world interaction, relationships and (more specifically) people suffer.
So what do we do? Honestly, I can’t really say. True, it takes effort on your part to get out and work at new friendships. But what happens when you still find yourself alone and powerless to change it? I can’t say that I have some seven-step plan to get people to want to spend more time with you or four things that will make you everyone’s best friend. All I can say is that these times of complete isolation, I have learned more about myself than I ever would have if I were surrounded by people. I have spent some good, quality time with God and learned things about Him too. After all, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NIV). And then I’m forced to ask myself how many times have I blown Him off and how many times has He been wanting to spend a little more time with me.
That may not be the best answer or even an answer that you wanted to hear, but then again, you didn’t really ask me. You were my victim as soon as you started reading. So I urge you to flee now while you can. Go get some sushi, throw on an album by Band of Horses or Iron & Wine, and make some friends. But as you’re out there, don’t forget the One who never forgets about you. (Plus, I’m pretty sure Jesus likes sushi, so a night alone now and then isn’t the worst thing.)