What Can We Learn from Loneliness?

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(This is an excerpt from the book Buck Up, Little Buckaroo.)

Who is our greatest example as we think about lessons from loneliness? Most of us will think of the Savior, and He is the One I’ve chosen to mention in conclusion.

Mother Teresa spoke of the Savior many times. Here is one example:

When Christ said: “I was hungry and you fed me,” he didn’t mean only the hunger for bread and for food; he also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst his own and his own received him not, and it hurt him then and it has kept on hurting him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that’s real hunger (A Gift for God, 30–31).

I particularly think of His loneliness during His final hours on this earth. He was neither welcomed nor wanted by His own.

Here is the One who would heal our loneliness—who would take upon Himself ALL our heavy burdens, all our sins and our suffering, our agony and pain—and He felt everything that we would feel. Maybe it still hurts Him in some way when we don’t respond to what He has made possible for us, when we don’t turn to Him for comfort, for understanding, for healing.

There have been some beautiful, tender messages shared about the Savior and His journey to save us, to make Heavenly Father’s plan a genuine plan of happiness. One of those that touched me very, very deeply was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s message during the 2009 April general conference. He said:

My Easter-season message today is intended for everyone, but it is directed in a special way to those who are alone or feel alone or, worse yet, feel abandoned. These might include those longing to be married, those who have lost a spouse, and those who have lost—or have never been blessed with—children. Our empathy embraces wives forsaken by their husbands, husbands whose wives have walked away, and children bereft of one or the other of their parents—or both. This group can find within its broad circumference a soldier far from home, a missionary in those first weeks of homesickness, or a father out of work, afraid the fear in his eyes will be visible to his family. In short it can include all of us at various times in our lives.

To all such, I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family. I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation. Rightly He would say: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: . . . I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold [me]” (Isaiah 63:3, 5; see also D&C 76:107; 88:106; 133:50) (“None Were with Him,” 86–88).

Jesus Christ triumphed over death, and He also triumphed over loneliness. As He hung on the cross and felt His Father’s withdrawal, He cried out, but He finished what He had been sent to accomplish. He is truly our Savior and Redeemer, with healing in His wings, and a perfectly understanding heart. He healed our loneliness as well as His. Come unto Him!

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