Fear of Loneliness

Cracked Doll Face FREE

   I once heard about a man, a widower, who had met a woman on-line 40 years his junior from an overseas country, and she’d promised to marry him – sight unseen. Sound unlikely? Was. But the man believed so he sent her plane-ticket money to come to the United States. However, at the last minute, she couldn’t come; there’d been a car accident. (Don’t worry – she was okay!) The problem was that she hadn’t been able to change her plane ticket or to get a refund so she’d need more money for another plane ticket. Oh, almost forgot: her father had left her millions of dollars but the money was frozen in some foreign bank so she couldn’t get to it right that minute but when she did, she would be able to pay the man back. She promised.

   So the man sent her more money for another plane ticket. But then, at the last minute, the woman couldn’t come; she’d gotten really sick (or something). So – more money – because she was definitely still coming. After all, she loved him and wanted to marry him. She promised.

   Fast forward three years and the man was still sending money for plane tickets and other stuff so that, when all was said and finally done, he’d sent at least $100,000. He’d cashed in his retirement CD’s, stocks and bonds; run up tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt from cash advances; refinanced his home and sent all of the equity he’d accrued; and sent part of his pensions every month. When the man died, he was many thousands in debt, banks had repossessed his home and car and – he’d still never met the woman. So why did he do it?

   He was lonely. Or rather, he was afraid of being lonely.

   Fear of loneliness.

The dehabilitating dread of being lonely has side-tracked, derailed, and train-wrecked more destinies than almost any other force on earth; people will go to extreme lengths to avoid the soul-sucking sentiment of loneliness.

   We’ve all experienced loneliness to some degree and, like a hot stove once touched, we know better than to go there ever again. So it is with loneliness: having gone one round with it, people, such as the man in the story, will often go to absolutely irrational – even insane – lengths not to have to feel lonely ever again. Thus, fear of loneliness is a cruel and devastating manipulator of behavior, the Grim Reaper of destinies.

   But what is it about the fear of loneliness that makes it so lethal?

   Fear of loneliness is insidious – an unconscious, instinctive fear. Often we don’t know that we’re running from loneliness when we do the things we do; we just react. If an abused spouse could articulate why she (or he) believes “it won’t happen again” when she knows darn well it will, most of the time, it’s the fear of being alone and lonely keeping the person in the relationship. Or how about the person who “settles” on marrying someone they know isn’t really “the one”? Fear of loneliness. People who cave to peer pressure because they want “to belong”? Fear of loneliness. Unfortunately, sad scenarios abound.

   Fear of loneliness often leads to avoidance behaviors. Many thousands of people, right now, fearing the pain of loneliness, are doing all they can to kill that terror: recreational drugs, pain killers, alcohol; even excessive partying or “risky” behaviors are evidence of fear of loneliness – anything to keep from feeling that feeling. The man in the story above even avoided the truth: the woman didn’t care about him, she was lying to him. He knew that. But his fear of being lonely was greater than his fear of being used or even impoverished.

   Fear of loneliness can cause us to hurt others. When we won’t let go of others because we’re afraid of being lonely, we can end up hurting not just ourselves but them. For example, there comes a time when parents have to face an “empty nest”; it’s time for the kids to move out and fulfill their own destinies: go to college, get a job, get married. But what if parents won’t let go? What if they manipulate their children into staying? Their fear of loneliness will impact their children’s futures. And it won’t be for the good.

   So how can we escape the deadly fear of loneliness?

Thing #1: Admit the problem. If we’re afraid of being lonely, then we need to look that fear in the face and admit that it’s there. If we do not, if we try to close our eyes to our fear of loneliness, it won’t just go away because we ignore it; that fear will drive us. Period.

Thing #2: Don’t be ashamed. By definition, being lonely means either that we are physically separated from others or kept emotionally at arms’ length by family and/or friends. For the record, being alone doesn’t always equate to loneliness and, conversely, one can be lonely in the midst of a crowd. That said, whatever the circumstances resulting in loneliness, in their midst we can often default to this thought: “What’s wrong with me that no one wants to talk to me [or spend time with me or date me or marry me – fill in the blank]?” When being alone feels like rejection to us, then shame is born. But if we take a moment to recognize that loneliness is part of the human condition and not simply a deficit in us, then that shame will dissipate. We are not, by far, the first to be lonely and we will not be the last.

Thing #3: Times of preparation are often lonely. If you know anything about the Bible, you know that King David, as a child, spent several years alone, shepherding sheep (a most despised occupation, btw) and then, as a young man, 16 years running and hiding in caves while Saul plotted to kill him. Was he lonely? You bet. But it was necessary loneliness – years of preparation by God. And Moses – 40 years alone in the desert. Granted, he got married but no one could really have understood where he came from and the life he’d run from; he was very much emotionally lonely. Preparation. Lesson? For the sake of your destiny, do not run from those times when God will put you by yourself to teach you what you can only learn in a lonely season.

   Do not fear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Deception

Angel of Light II   Humans are pathetic. They think they are so superior to Adam and Eve. They carry on ad nauseam about how, if not for that miscreant pair, life would be paradise; there would never have been sin or death or pain or suffering . . . I don’t know whether to laugh or throw up when I hear about it. And I hear about it incessantly. Humans complaining about sin as they spin their self-righteous threads of gossip, weave their diaphanous cloth of lies, and stitch together their deceptively sleazy plots. Not that I don’t appreciate a truly well-done and damning conspiracy, but humans are such amateurs.

   Hypocrisy, you know, was the second sin in that illustrious garden – or was it third? Yes, it must’ve been third – the man’s lie came after the Apple itself.

   Ah, never has there ever been such an apple, before or since. Red, ripe and dripping with the poison of the Knowledge of Evil . . . how could they resist? No one could. I made certain of it.

   Or, I thought I did. I didn’t understand, until much later, that He had allowed me to tempt them; I thought I had done it. And in destroying them – His pets – I was certain I’d destroy Him. But He had a “plan” – which I had no way of knowing. Many millions think – have always thought – that I am omniscient, some kind of fortune teller – and I let them think that. What harm does it do?  None to me. But He had a plan which I did not know and which (I detest having to admit this) I would not have been able to fathom had I known. It simply makes no sense!

   All of that “lose to win” and “die to live” nonsense He came up with – how does one even comprehend that? How many times through the ages have I thought I had won when I had lost? The Garden – I thought I had won there. I had so thoroughly deceived the pair of them that they were put out and left to fend for themselves. Not that deceiving them was all that difficult; He’d made other creatures so much more intelligent than the both of them together. (In general, I find most dogs to be more intelligent than humans.) But what a magnificent victory for me! It was like the glory of the first moment of freedom from the slavitude of interminable and forced worship – only to discover that it was not a victory at all – not then and not later.

   But surely, when they died – that was a victory for me. Except that He put them somewhere where I could not reach them, some holding tank or other. But therein lies the good news and the bad news. The bad news for humans is that the age of the holding tank is over; my hellish domain is now populated with hundreds of thousands of millions who chose, through the ages, to see things my way instead of His. Oh, wait – that’s the good news.

   For me.

   “Choice” is such a marvelously delightful word. I have obtained more mileage and souls from that one word alone than from most other words combined. What humans have done in the name of choice! “Choice,” to them, is their god – everything must be a choice, and so reality is conceived, sketched, created, and adorned according to one’s own ambition.

   But what humans do not know is that “choice” is the most powerful principle in the universe. For a human being to give his or her consent is the most precious gift He could have given them.

   But consent to follow, to obey, to serve, to worship – whom?

   They do not know, most of them. They do not know that they have the power to choose – except for the piddling things they waste their time debating: what to eat, what to wear, what to watch on their silly devices, where to vacation, where to work, whom to marry? And their tragic choices – my forté, of course: disobedience and destruction and death – of one kind or another. Choices all, great and small, but each one a stroke of a pen in a contract sealing their eternal fates. The myth of the “pact with the devil” – merely the lore of tale and legend and song, is it not? Of course, there are many who now wish it were so.

   You doubt me?   

   Let me demonstrate: Each human is vulnerable to his or her own individual and unique Tree of the Knowledge of Evil; each has a luscious fruit glittering with temptation, and all have a price willingly paid to glut their insatiable lust for that piece of fruit. Each, of his or her own free will, chooses to pay dearly for just one bite. That the price is eternity is not well understood by many who indulge themselves. And I make certain that they never do. It’s so simple.

   The Art of Deception.                                                                      

                                                                  2017 – Cynthia Noble

 

Waiting On the Rain

Rainbow in Storm - FREE

   Recently I sat on my deck with a cup of tea, staring up at the heaping purple clouds rolling in from the western skies, waiting on the rain. And that’s when it occurred to me that that would make a great song: “Waitin’ On the Rain”. Of course, it would have to be a blues tune, the desperate purge of some splintering soul mourning with slow, heart-wrenching, Muddy-Waters tears as hope, a final and dying note, withered slowly into silence. Waiting on the rain – the next inevitable disappointment, the next searing heartbreak, the next paralyzing regret – and the next and the next and the next . . .

   Am I right?

   Maybe. But it could be a Christian song. “Waitin’ On the Rain” – the rain of blessing, the rain of joy, the rain of hope, the rain of abundance, the rain of the Spirit, a downpour of the presence of the Lord, a flood of End-Time revival.

   Am I wrong?

   How we see the rain depends on our perspectives and our expectations. But mostly, it depends on what we believe.

   Do we believe, in spite of the devastating rains that will drench every life sometime, somewhere that God is ultimately in charge, that the clouds will eventually part and the sun will appear again? Or do we instead believe that the rain, even sustained though it might sometimes be, is the Great Flood of our lives, destroying all hopes, ship-wrecking all dreams; that rain – the final word in our destinies?

   There once was a man who experienced more rain in his life than most other people in history. You may have heard of him but in case you have not, know that few people have ever been defeated more times in life than he was and yet he never quit. His life went something like this:

  • 1816 – His family lost their home; he had to go to work.
  • 1818 – His mother died.
  • 1831 – His business failed.
  • 1832 – He ran for state legislature and lost; he lost his job; he applied to law school and was denied.
  • 1833 – He borrowed money for business and went bankrupt. He spent 17 years re-paying that debt.
  • 1834 – He ran for state legislature again and won.
  • 1835 – He was engaged to be married but his fiancé died.
  • 1836 – He had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
  • 1838 – He sought speakership of the state legislature and was defeated.
  • 1840 – He sought elector-ship and was defeated.
  • 1843 – He ran for Congress and lost.
  • 1846 – He ran for Congress and won.
  • 1848 – He ran for re-election to Congress and lost.
  • 1849 – He sought the position of land officer in Illinois and was rejected.
  • 1854 – He ran for Senate and lost.
  • 1856 – He sought the Vice-Presidential nomination and got less than 100 votes.
  • 1858 – He ran for U.S. Senate again and lost.
  • 1860 – He was elected President of the United States.

   You know this man as President Abraham Lincoln. He was, arguably, the most important president this nation has ever known because, if not for him, who knows how much longer this nation would have endured slavery? But because he was willing to stand for what he believed in, even to the point of going to war and being among the most hated men of his time, slavery ended. Would he have had the courage to face those hurricanes (they were so much more than “rain”) had he not chosen to endure and endure and endure in the midst of his own life’s hurricanes? I doubt it. If he learned one thing it was this: Quitting is not an option.

   There was another man who experienced rain in his life. It wasn’t easy; he tried and failed over and over again at one thing or another. He got a job as a retail manager but wasn’t great at sales and so got fired. Afterward, he found a job in construction but was laid off and had trouble finding another job because he didn’t have great references from the first job. In the meantime, his wife left him because she didn’t think he was working hard enough at finding employment or to repay their debt. Once she disappeared, he worked a little harder at finding a job and finally landed another in construction. That went pretty well and he was on the brink of getting back together with his wife when he was injured on the job; he busted out his knee. And even though Worker’s Comp paid for his knee surgery, he was in a great deal of pain and – you guessed it – ended up addicted to pain killers. At that point, his wife divorced him. Still, he did go to rehab for his addiction. His name was Marcus Brutus Brandonberg. Recognize that name? No? That’s because he stopped going to rehab. He stopped believing.

   He quit.

   Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? It’s a concept that says that what we believe deep in our hearts will, ultimately and absolutely, determine what we get. And there’s nothing spooky or flaky or New Age-y about it because what we believe will eventually determine that most critical of factors: whether we persevere or whether we quit.

   If we believe the rain is an inevitable, all-powerful and ultimately destructive force in our lives over which we have no control, then we may as well quit. What would be the point of pushing through the pain? But if we recognize that there is a rain, a sweet rain of blessing which leads to honor and victory and destiny, then we won’t give up – in spite of the heartache and disappointment and pain. Rain can cause all of those things but one thing it cannot cause is defeat. Only we can do that.

   Or not.

   What do you see when you’re waiting on the rain?

 

 

 

 

 

Correction vs. Rejection

Correction - Hand Crop   Jack stared at the paper in his hand, crumpled it up, and slam-dunked it into the trash can. There might have been a profanity or two involved as well. His boss’s words reverberated through his mind like a swarm of hornets dive bombing his head.

   “Jack, I’d like you to spend some time shadowing Bill and watching how he communicates with potential clients. I think that will help you to land some new accounts. Your quotas haven’t been quite up to par since you began, but I believe you do have the potential to be a good salesman…”

   Jack was humiliated. He’d had good sales numbers in his last position and excellent evaluations. Granted, quotas were higher with this company but they acted like he’d never even sold a glass of lemonade. And now they wanted him shadowing Bill. He could just imagine the behind-his-back smirks around the water cooler. Jack kicked the wastebasket. He didn’t need this. He should just walk.

   Carly fought back tears. She read the email again. The publishing editor complimented her writing; the plotline was engaging – “gripping” even and her characters “intriguing”, but the editor regretted that he would have to pass. Her social media following was not quite what it should be. But he invited her to resubmit when she reached the particular number of followers he’d mentioned. She glanced again at the number.

   “Hemmingway didn’t have that many followers,” she muttered. Maybe her mother had been right. Maybe she should just forget writing and take up knitting.

   Both Jack and Carly had the same reaction to the course corrections offered by those in charge of their advancement: frustration, followed by discouragement, followed by a strong inclination to quit. Neither had anticipated the critiques nor did they see them as even remotely fair. Neither felt that their talents or abilities were at all valued and just barely even acknowledged. And after the anger came the self-condemnation. Neither Jack nor Carly felt that they had the chops to be successful. They were failures. They’d never make it. They should just face the facts and call it a day. Permanently.      

   What neither Jack nor Carly understood is that correction is not rejection.

   In our success-driven culture, we often feel that “making it” should, if we have what it takes, come easily and certainly quickly. Television, magazines, and all forms of social media gush with images and tales of the rich, the talented, the successful – and they make it look so easy. So that means that if it’s not easy for us, then we’re simply not good enough. Period.

   Not so much.

   Here’s what we don’t realize – with few exceptions, successful people didn’t become that way overnight. Most of them spent years – even decades – preparing themselves, pitching their games, and then failing, only to begin again – and sometimes again and again. We rarely hear of all the rejections experienced by the successful before they achieved their goals: sports tryouts, performance auditions, manuscript submissions, business endeavors, and dozens of job interviews. And meanwhile, folks working two or three jobs or waiting tables at midnight or juggling family, work and school – all while receiving critiques, readjusting, learning, practicing, readjusting some more and trying again.

   Just never quitting.

   But regardless of the industry or field, the goals or dreams, what do all successful people have in common?

   Thing #1: They know that, in order to accomplish their goals and fulfill their destinies, they need to sharpen their skills and become, if not experts, at least very, very good at what they do. Moreover, they know that that doesn’t happen overnight so they understand that correction will come – and it needs to. And because they know to expect correction, they’re not devastated when it happens.

   Thing #2: The ability to accept correction, even if you know it’s coming, requires a tad bit of humility to swallow it and even a touch of gratitude for those willing to take the time to give it because they generally don’t have to. Successful people know that attitude matters.

   Have you ever seen the cooking show “Chopped”? If not, the show features four experienced chefs competing to win a $10,000 prize. There are three courses – appetizer, entrée, and dessert – and after each course, one chef is eliminated. The last one standing wins. The point is that whenever chefs are “chopped,” the judges give them feedback on why they didn’t make the cut so that they can improve. Most of the chefs thank the judges and move on but sometimes, there are those who didn’t get the attitude memo and stomp off, insisting that the judges were wrong and they should’ve won. Bad move. In fact, really bad move. If those people had considered, even for a moment, that they weren’t perfect, they would not have received the judges’ critiques as rejection.

   Thing #3: Not everyone who gives correction does it the right way. We’ve all experienced those who nuke us with their corrections, more with the intent to punish or condemn than to help us to improve. In that case, it’s best not to take the manner of correction to heart while still examining the content of it to see whether there’s any validity to it. Of course, I recognize that that’s sometimes very difficult, especially should the correction be accompanied with yelling, with the word “stupid,” or by ending with “What’s wrong with you??” If that’s the case, realize that there’s nothing wrong with you; it’s the person having the meltdown who needs to consider that question seriously.

   Last Thing: Correction is not rejection. It is an opportunity to improve, to master, and then to ace your game. Correction is not about who you are, it’s about what you do.

   It’s not personal.