Going it alone: Exploding the myth

The widespread myth that single people are going it alone is deeply entrenched, but the truth is that support is readily available, if we seek it out.

So much of our life hinges on emotion that it's hard to see clearly. We believe what we feel rather than the facts. And too often we're convinced the things we feel are the facts.

We singles rarely dig into our concept of aloneness. We just figure that one is a solitary number, as the song goes, so like inanimate objects, we must be separated too.

The truth is very different. We can build relationships and support, but it takes courage. Reaching out is hard, especially if you've known rejection. The obstacle to overcome is thinking more hurt will destroy you. Defeating that idea requires an abrupt change in attitude.

Let's look at the belief that we're going it alone, with a short background on where we got that idea in the first place.

The myth of the lone hero

You don't have to look far to find a boatload of novels, movies, and especially songs about going it alone. American singer Beck even recorded a number titled "Go it Alone." There's something intriguing and romantic about the mysterious loner, battling the forces of evil, or even the petty annoyances of everyday life.

We identify with underdogs, those male and female underachievers who have the odds stacked against them. In fact, we singles feel we're outnumbered most of the time anyway.

During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020-2021, most of us were forced into further isolation, which intensified our sense of separation. For singles, it increased already existing loneliness and depression.  

Going it alone, however, is a choice. Just because you and I don't have a spouse doesn't mean we have to struggle through life without help. Oh, it may seem more noble that way, but it's hardly the wisest course of action.

Part of growing up is chucking the fantasy that we're superheroes, unaided in our war against powerful enemies. Even Captain America has the Avengers, and Batman has the Justice League.

But cultural influences hold more sway over us than we realize. And there's another problem: It takes real humility to ask for help.

Going it alone: Family and friends

Sadly, today many singles are alienated from their family. Sometimes these rifts are caused by distance, but they can also be the result of arguments. When we're cut off from family, we do feel as if we're going it alone.

Patching things up can sometimes take swallowing your pride. I know a family that has split over an inheritance; they will probably never speak to each other again. What a tragic waste.

If your family is lost for whatever reason, friends can be a substitute family. Who hasn't had a best friend who is as close as a brother or sister? Older relatives can even serve as a surrogate father or mother. I'm for reconciling with family whenever possible, but sometimes that simply isn't going to happen.

On the other hand, I'm against texting with friends a jillion times a day. I don't have to let my friends know when I have indigestion, nor do I have to post it on Facebook, but hey, I'm old, and that's not part of my culture. Just be careful what you share online, okay?

Again, reaching out and making friends takes courage. Some of us are naturally shy. Today it's always smart to be very careful who you make friends with. It's another unfortunate fact of life today that everyone can't be trusted.

How church can help

If you're a Christian, you can often find worthwhile support at church. As a microcosm of society, the local church typically has lots of singles, widows, and divorced men and women. Mega churches may even have a formal singles' ministry.

My friends at church supported me when my brother died in 2019. Many of them came to the visitation and some had me over for dinner in the months following. We may have to go through grief in the privacy of our home, but it helps to know people care about you.

I have felt I am a part of a church family when I go to Bible studies. As our pastor guides us through the Word of God, I have listened to other members' comments and have found I often felt the same way. Our mutual love of Christ draws us together.

Worshiping together is another way I fight the feeling I'm going it alone. Last Easter, when we all sang the old Lutheran hymn "I Know That My Redeemer Lives," it gave me goosebumps!

But of course hearing a Bible-based sermon every weekend is like cold water to a thirsty soul. A gifted preacher can bring God's healing word right into your heart. It touches your hurts and assures you God is on your side.

The real key to going it alone

As helpful as all those supports are, they can't be with you 24/7/365. God can be, and he is.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, the veil in the Jerusalem temple was torn from top to bottom. That symbolized the end of separation between God and humanity. We did not need human high priests to intercede with God for us any more.

Even better, after his ascension into heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within every believer. For Christians, that means there is no such thing as going it alone. God lives inside you and will remain until you get to heaven, where you'll meet him face to face.

That's a tough truth to believe. Most of the time we singles don't feel any different. It's rare to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit within you, but he's there, nevertheless.

How can he help? First, he encourages you to pray. When you can't pray or don't know what to say, he prays for you and sends those prayers directly to God. That's an awesome gift.

Second, he gives you strength and courage when you need it. I have felt that strength when fighting life-threatening illness. I have felt that courage when I did things I wouldn't be brave enough to do on my own. I'm sure you've felt it too.

Third, the Holy Spirit is a constant reminder of your salvation and your precious value in the eyes of God the Father. You are an adopted child in God's family, with heaven awaiting you.

Finally, the Holy Spirit removes your fear of aloneness. He's not going anywhere and never will. He is your protector, guide, and intercessor. Once and for all, he destroys the myth that you are going it alone.

So reach out. Seize what is yours and find the help you need. It's real and it does make a difference.

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