Loneliness and Community

From Romans 12: “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!……Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone……If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. ……. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

Can you imagine being married for 65 years and what it would feel like to lose your closest companion after that long? For Keith Davison it meant overwhelming loneliness and feeling disconnected from his community. Also, at such an age, I imagine it’s difficult to make new friends. Determined to change the situation, Mr. Davison decided to do something fairly radical; he built a large, in-ground pool in his backyard and invited the neighborhood to enjoy it . . . for the entire summer!

Instead of giving up and simply feeling sorry for himself, Davison created a space where his neighbors could relax, make friends and form meaningful relationships through plain old ordinary fun. “Now his backyard is filled with the squeals and laughter of kids enjoying their summer with a dip in the pool.” Davison’s one requirement is that “they have to be accompanied by a parent or grandparent in order to take a swim in the 32-foot pool, which has a diving board and a 9-foot deep end.”

According to a news article, Davison, who has “one daughter and two sons but no grandchildren, has become somewhat of a surrogate grandfather to the local kids.” Of course, he still misses his wife. But now his time is often occupied with happy people, who are grateful for his generosity and have a desire to make new friends. “It’s him spreading joy,” neighbour Jessica Huebner said, “throughout our neighbourhood for these kids.”

God’s desire is for us to have relationships with one another. Spending too much time alone and feeling isolated is not healthy. Instead of being stuck in our individual circumstances, feeling paralyzed by loss or sorry for ourselves, we can allow God to do something new and exciting through each of us. When we do this, we’ll not only be happier ourselves but also we’ll bring joy to others.

We can’t all build swimming pools for the neighbourhood, but there are many small ways in which we can bring joy to others: check in on our neighbours with a visit or phone call; give a mother with small children a break by taking them to the zoo or babysitting for a while; take the neighbour who can’t drive shopping or a visit to a museum, art gallery, or farmers’ market; volunteer at your local hospital or nursing home. The possibilities are endless.

When God created human beings, it was because God was looking for companionship. None of us, not even God, were ever meant to be alone or isolated. We were created to live with, love, and support one another. We were created to be community, not individuals.

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