I have allergies. And they make me miserable. Spring. Summer. And fall. A runny nose. Scratchy throat. And watery eyes. But these are only the effects—not the cause. To get rid of my symptoms, I must deal with the real problem.
Allergy symptoms are easy to spot. But not all human conditions are simple to see. If they were, we’d never wait until it was too late. We’d find a remedy and be rid of the reason once and for all.
In nearly 30 years of pastoral leadership, I’ve encountered countless people dealing with serious issues. And like an idiot, I put a band-aid on their pain, ignored their real problems, and treated their symptoms. Addiction, depression, anxiety, worry, fear, divorce, abuse, selfharm—the list is endless.
But I failed—because cures require getting to the root.
We don’t deal with physical ailments and illnesses without first diagnosing the disease. (We do. But that’s another topic of being overmedicated.) So why do we tackle emotional, relational, and spiritual struggles without getting to the heart of the matter? It’s time for us to wake up and face reality.
Like Cancer—Lonely Kills
How many people in your life have you lost from the “C” word? Probably too many. And while they were going through treatment, you felt helpless as you watched them undergo aggressive procedures. Doctors used surgery, chemo, and radiation to crush the disease—without success—but it had to be done. Without killing the core cause, cancer spreads.
Our world is filled with a condition (or cancer) no one escapes. But we don’t like to talk about it. We mask it. Ignore it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Even blame the symptoms on something else. And while we invent ways to hide our pain, hurt, and sadness, lonely continues to grow and suck the life out of our homes, marriages, and relationships.
Dying from the Inside Out
There’s not a person you know who doesn’t deal with lonely. And it’s not a minor malady. If you don’t think you do (or will), you’re only lying to yourself. We could cure a massive amount of shame, anger, and insecurity if we’d admit that lonely is our greatest problem. Until then, our kids, spouses, families—everyone—are plagued by its symptoms.
I’m begging you not to bury your head in the sand any longer. Look around your home, workplace, school, church, and community. Start seeing the symptoms. And dealing with the disease.
There’s a simple cure for our human crises.
Pain doesn’t have to be permanent.
And lonely doesn’t have to last forever.