Almost 50% of adults in the United States struggle with loneliness. I believe when we talk about loneliness it loses some of its power. I also believe it helps when we put real names and faces with real examples of loneliness. Many thanks to Zac Hicks for participating in the Hope for the Lonely On the Record Q&A.
Zac is a husband, father, and Canon for Liturgy and Worship at Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama.
1. How do you define loneliness?
Loneliness is the feeling that no one sees you or knows you.
2. What are some of your loneliness triggers?
(a) Lack of work, or a project (because I sadly define myself and mediate my relationships through my work); (b) Being away from my wife and children for more than three days.
3. Over the course of your life, when have you felt the loneliest?
I often feel most lonely when I am away on a work trip. On one particular trip, I recall a suffocating loneliness when I realized that no one there really knew me, and (and this is key) truly aligned with my convictions. It was a trip that involved public ministry (speaking, teaching), and upon arrival, I was presented with the reality that the expectations of me were more than communicated initially, and that they were hoping I would say things which by conviction I felt I could not say. After almost a week of being in that environment—with no confidant, and no one physically present to sympathize with my dilemma—I felt more alone than I had almost ever had. Shocking, too, was that this was a place I was very familiar with and in which had spent lots of time in my past, and therefore had many relationships. The trip had ended up being a revelation about myself: I had changed, and the people and institutions of my past no longer “understood” me.
4. How do you define hope?
Hope is believing that some positive vision of the future, comprehensive enough to cause the color to shift the hues of present circumstances, will come true.
5. What gives you hope in your loneliness?
Two things: (1) God's promises about the present and the future; (2) Non-judgmental, sympathetic companionship, particularly in the form of meaningful conversation. Meaningful conversation, for me, has included a mixture of a filter-less sharing of deep, personal pains and struggles and dialoguing deeply and philosophically on topics which I care about.
For more Hope for the Lonely, check out the Hope for the Lonely podcast. And email me at email@example.com if you’d like to participate in the Hope for the Lonely On the Record Q&A. Thanks!