Have you played Phase 10? That's a card game that lasts hours. It's the card game version of Monopoly. Like the "Never Ending Song," Phase 10 goes on and on. And I like it. Well, I used to like it more than I do now because I've been losing a lot lately.
Can you imagine sitting at a table of six or eight people playing Phase 10 but you have our own deck of 51 playing Solitaire? (I hope you caught the Statler Brothers reference there!)
Here's my point: some of us feel alone even in a crowd. Some of us feel like we are playing Solitaire at a table where everyone else is playing Phase 10. Solitaire is a lonely game. Loneliness is confining.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am an introvert and I often prefer to be alone. Give me a Kindle book on my iPad and I'm pretty satisfied most of the time. Put a clear flash card in my Canon and let me have fun with nature. I can do just fine much of the time all by myself. But not all the time.
God created us in his image and I believe that, in part, means that humans are wired for relationships and interaction. Private, quiet time alone is good and useful but God did not design us to spend all our time alone.
But even in a crowd or just small group, guys like me can feel alone.
I value a good lecture - especially when I'm the one talking! But I understand the value of conversation. Two people - three people - ten people interacting in conversation can accomplish much more than one-way communication.
Sometimes a one-way, direct communication is best. When severe weather threatens a community, it's not time to have a roundtable discussion about it. The weatherman needs to clearly and emphatically tell the residents what is happening and what they should do to protect themselves.
But the early morning shows featuring news, information, etc., are a much better way to engage people on a regular basis. What would it be like if Matt Lauer stared into your living room and sternly told you about the latest fashion or movie or book? You wouldn't listen for long. But when Matt and a guest have a conversation about these topics the viewers can't or don't turn away.
I've sat in conversations and committee meetings that were really monologues. My ideas, my responses, my reactions weren't the concern of the other person. It was like I was playing Solitaire at a table full of people playing Phase 10. In a crowd, yet lonely.
"Is anyone listening?" is the anguished call of too many. "Does anyone know my name?" "Does anyone care?"
We've been singing this song in church for a while.
He knows my name.He know my every thought.He sees each tear that fallsAnd hears me when I call.
When you sit at God's table, he listens. Even if you've wandered from his table or don't even know where his house is, he listens.
Just a word to all of you who don't struggle with this: please realize that there is someone around you who does struggle with loneliness. They may be quiet, slow to speak, and say very little. But they need you to listen when they do say something.
"He Knows My Name"