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Just dropping by ... The watchman of the heart

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 06 August 2021

Pain: What a terrible curse. Men under the threat of pain have revealed national secrets and abandoned family, country and religion. The cupboards of many Americans are filled with painkillers, and pharmacies do a booming pain-relieving business.

Life would be much easier if pain did not exist. It would be nice to be able to walk up and down the stairs without a nagging knee pain. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a stressful day without the accompanying headache? A pain-free existence would be a blessing. Losing the sense of pain would not be as bad as COVID where you lose your taste and smell. Just think of it, no pain!

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One of the symptoms of leprosy is a lack of feeling in the extremities. It attacks the nervous system and causes the body to gradually become pain free. Sounds like a glorious existence! But leprosy is a virtually pain-free existence that is not so magnificent. In biblical times, lepers were exiled from society and forced to live in colonies apart from the community and family.

When lepers met people from the community, they would announce their presence with the dehumanizing cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” People would literally run from their presence. There are horror stories that tell of leprosy victims who have burned themselves severely because they could not feel the pain of the burn. Others have lost extremities to rats because they could not feel the pain of the bites.

My son-in-law lived many years as a paraplegic. He could not feel anything from the waist down. Not only could he not feel pain, but he could also not feel the sensation of pleasure. You can’t have one without the other. Pain is a small thing compared to the terrible curse that comes to those who can’t feel anything. God gave us pain as a watchman for our bodies.

Years ago, David Krane, one of my college professors, pointed out that loneliness is an epidemic in our society. That was back in 1988. I wonder what he would say in 2021. Back then, we didn’t have smart phones, texting, video games or a pandemic to keep us apart. I would say loneliness ranks with heart disease and cancer.

How could anyone possibly feel lonely in America? Cities spread across this county like bees on a hive. Freeways are filled with cars full of people. Oceans are teeming with ships carrying people. You can’t turn around without running into people. Even the family vacation in the mountains is shared with other campers. How could anyone feel lonely in a place like that?

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It took a few years for me to sort out Dr. Krane’s comment. Loneliness can exist in the presence of thousands. Loneliness is a feeling that comes when you sense that no one understands the feelings of your heart. Loneliness comes when the only communication you have is with Facebook human beings whose existence is amplified to show glamor and style, not reality.

Loneliness comes when you see beauty queens strutting on the movie screen in their perfect world with their perfect makeup, clothes and cars. Loneliness comes when the measuring stick you use to measure your self-worth has changeable numbers. One day you are confident because your hair is stylish and beautiful. The next day you look in on the internet and realize that no one wears your style anymore. You see your friends traveling to new places and buying new toys when you are stuck home with the kids or facing the drudgery of an unfulfilling job. You are outdated, and you don’t have the money or plastic to update your existence. That kind of loneliness is rampant in America.

Loneliness is a symptom of a much larger problem. Like pain, loneliness triggers warning signals that something is wrong. Pain tells us when we have stepped too close to an open flame. It tells us that we have a paper cut, and it even tells us that we are under too much stress. Pain is the watchman of our bodies. Loneliness is the watchman of our hearts.

A little loneliness, like a little pain, is not harmful, but when loneliness reaches epidemic proportions, and people check out of society – through drugs, violence, divorce and suicide – there is a problem that needs to be addressed. We have only to look at the national news to see symptoms of the leprosy of loneliness.

Loneliness in modern society is not distance but disconnect. In pioneer days, people lived miles apart, but they still felt connected because they were connected to nature, their families and to God. Today, many have abandoned all three. In the agricultural world of yesteryear, people were connected to nature. They had a friend in the dog wagging his tail on the porch, the horse grazing in the field and the cow mooing in the barn. Men and women even had a friend in the growing trees and plants of the garden. Frustrations were often talked over with a silent cat lounging on the couch. Anger was vented in the sweat of the plow and long country walks in a quiet, slow-moving forest.

Today, mechanical beasts offer little comfort. Sleek, shiny cars and smartphones with a myriad of speeds and gadgets are inanimate objects that steal our time and attention and give us little satisfaction – maybe a smile, a fleeting breath of sympathy or a gasp at yet another political intrigue. We respond with a click of an emoji and move on, with no connection to anything substantial or lasting.

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In the past, children were raised in a family by a mother and a father. The roles of mother and father were clear and well defined. Mother took time to nurture and teach children to take care of themselves in the hostile world. Fathers were heads of the family and took charge of the protection, discipline and financial welfare of the family. Today, a child is often raised in a daycare center, where nurturing is divided between several children. Object lessons on how to face the real world are often taught on television and through on-the-job training with other children. Fathers are often absent from the home or tuned out while in the home. The mother is expected to protect, discipline and care for children in her spare time from her fulltime job. It is easier to hand a toddler a cell phone with a video than it is to take time to teach and nurture.

Some children are not lucky enough to be raised in a daycare facility but are latchkey kids who come home to empty houses, empty refrigerators and empty hearts. It’s little wonder children grow up feeling they have no connection to society. They become lonely wanderers searching for acceptance in an ever-changing society.

In the recent past, most Americans were Christians. They were firmly rooted in biblical principles: Love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery, and thou shalt not steal. God was remembered on Sunday. Families attended church together, where they discussed values and eternal truths that gave children a pattern of right and wrong. Today, right and wrong is a measuring stick that changes from one person to the next. There is no such thing as absolute truth. The overriding philosophy states: “If I don’t get caught, it’s okay, and if I do get caught, it’s not my fault. I am a victim.”

It is a small wonder Americans are lonely. They have forsaken nature, family and God. They are without anchor and with no place to turn in the face of adversity. They are whipped around by every social whim. Sources of comfort are far out of reach because they have abandoned the avenues God created to make them happy.

Loneliness, like pain, seeks to guard the heart from destruction by intensifying. People sense that something is wrong and want answers. They reach to search engines, more social media and toys to soothe the emptiness. They look in all the wrong places when the answer is right under their noses. Turn off the phone, pick up the scriptures, tune into family and spend some time in the glorious creations of God. Have some real face time, where you hold hands and look into real eyes and hearts. Share some real emotions with someone you love. end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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