A few weeks ago I wrote about the millennial generation’s experience with a “loneliness epidemic,” and that truth now weighs heavily on my heart more than ever before.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought our country to its knees and, as usual, social and traditional media are representing the most extreme opinions on either end of the spectrum. Things are more intense than usual, and one of the most prevalent opinions of late has been outrage at young people who continue to go out and socialize in bars and restaurants.
I understand the anger, confusion, and frustration of watching many people behave in a way you believe to be harmful—and potentially fatal—to others around them. I might even go as far as to express my agreement that these bar-crawlers should go home and stay there for a few weeks.
But it struck me today that the impending period of isolation is probably striking a deep and painful nerve among this lonely generation that might deserve a little more compassion, understanding, and, most of all, prayer instead of condemnation.
Imagine you are a single twenty-to-thirty-something living in a major metropolitan area. You might live alone or with a roommate, and your family probably doesn’t live nearby. You are also one of the millions-and-counting of your generation to suffer from anxiety and depression. You may be medicated, but mostly you lean on your busy job by day then your buzzing social life at night to distract you from the crushing sadness that looms over you once you’re alone at night.
Many bars and restaurants are closing, which will help solve the problem of people continuing to congregate socially in large groups out in public spaces. While this needs to happen and we’re all banding together to make personal sacrifices for the common good, it’s also important to remember that for someone who suffers from crippling loneliness or depression, two weeks in isolation is more than just an inconvenience or a sacrifice. Rather, it’s a sentence to sit alone with the thoughts and emotions that someone in the group described above spends most of his or her time trying to avoid.
Emotions are high for all of us right now. We’re all trying quickly to wrap our minds around something that feels unfathomable and came relatively out of nowhere. There are a lot of differing opinions and we’re all mostly just trying to figure out the right thing to do in an unprecedented situation. We need to be patient for how quickly or slowly others around us might come around to understanding certain aspects of this.
Most importantly, we need to be praying and watching out for those who might be affected by this type of isolation in a particularly painful way. Instead of pointing the finger, some might need for you to reach out your hand.
Groups of fewer than 10 are generally safe, according to authorities, and if you’re still not comfortable with that we thankfully live in a time where video chatting is pretty universally accessible. It’s also important to remind people that there are 24/7 suicide hotlines available if they need them.
I pray that everyone would be well-supported and equipped to get through these next few difficult months. Even more than that, my prayer for my generation is that they would know the unconditional and everlasting love of their Father in Heaven. who created them with intentionality and for a unique purpose.
I pray that in this time of isolation, when all of the distractions are removed, the exposed space would be filled with the truth about how God feels about each and every one of His children. I pray that the members of this lonely generation would come to know that God is with them wherever they go, and that they were worth Him sending His Son to die to save them.
I am so grateful to know that this Truth is alive today, and I hope you will join me during the coming weeks in praying that any pain pushed to the brink during these trying times will be met not with fear and hopelessness, but with the love of Jesus.