The holidays are upon us. As most of us anticipate with enthusiasm the holiday season, we look forward to celebrations with family and friends. We eagerly anticipate exchanging gifts at Christmas and welcoming a new year with the hope of a better year to come. We experience food, music, lights, decorations and festivities galore, while realizing that this time of year is not a celebration for all. For some, it’s a reminder of a first Christmas without a loved one who was lost during this year, or a reminder of a lost job or financial circumstances that prevent them from giving in a way that gives them joy. We are bombarded with advertisements and seasonal reminders that this is the most joyous time of year, which I suspect compounds the problem for the lonely. Some, due to distance or loss, may be forced to spend the holidays alone, while others are lonely even within a crowded room.

We are herd animals …

I believe we were created to be in relationships with one another and our creator. We thrive in healthy relationships and around others. Yes, introverts need time alone to regain their energy, but we all yearn for companionship.

You may say, “So what?

“There are always lonely people,” and it’s true. There is very little we may be able to do to solve another individuals’ issues of sadness or isolation, but there are actions we can take to give them moments of pause from their pain by simply reaching out to them and giving them a little time and attention. Please keep reading with an open mind and heart.

Make a short list.

Maybe your list is only one person. Who do you know that is alone and/or in emotional pain? What helps the lonely is not our money but our time. Can we take a half-hour to sit across from someone that we know may be suffering and listen to them? I have three people on my list. One is a relative, one a long-time friend who I lost contact with, and the other, a community acquaintance. These are three people, for whatever reason, seem to have lost meaningful connection with others. I’ll reach out, take them to lunch or just out for coffee. I’m going to give them my time and attention and I’m encouraging you to do the same. Who is on your list?

You don’t have time?

Do you eat lunch or drink coffee? Why not use that time to connect? We are all busy. We live in a world of our own creation that is short on time with stress in abundance. I get it. I live there, too, but we can decide to take some time and make a connection with one or a few people that need contact with another person.

Be deliberate.

I believe many reading this column will agree and intend to do so, but unless you are deliberate and make the hard plans, time will pass, and your good intentions will be forgotten. Make your list now. Pick up the phone and make the call to arrange a meeting.

Do you think you cannot change the world by meeting with a person in need of companionship?

There is a story told …

A man is walking early morning on a deserted beach. In the distance, he sees a person that appears to be dancing. As he moves closer, he sees that it is a woman. She is picking something up on the beach, running toward the water and tossing the object into the surf. Her enthusiasm for what she is doing moves her with grace and beauty.

As the curious man moves closer, he sees that the woman is picking up starfish that have washed up and are now stranded on the beach.

“What are you doing?” the man asked.

“The starfish have become stranded and as the sun rises in the sky, they will wither and die.”

The man looked around and saw thousands of starfish strewn all over the beach. “There are so many. You can’t save them all,” he said as he watched the woman pick up another and tossed it back into the sea.

“I saved that one,” she said with a smile.

Who do you know that is withering away from loneliness?

I challenge you to make a difference in the life of at least one person this holiday season.

Will you say yes?

Gary W. Moore is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com

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