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Slaying the giant of loneliness in God’s presence  

Christian minister, counsellor, mentor and lecturer Julie Porter introduces her book Loneliness versus Being Alone, which delves into the juxtaposition of loneliness and solitude

Loneliness versus Being Alone Who would have known in 2010, at the genesis of this book, that exactly 10 years later the world would be hit by a global pandemic? I began the year of 2020 with hopes, dreams and plans for achieving many goals but by February of 2020 Covid-19 put an big red “stop” sign in front of all my plans. I’m sure I’m not unique to share this testimony.

Next came a deluge of language such as lockdown, social distancing, isolation, closure, redundancies and furlough (I mean to be honest when I heard the word ‘furlough’ I thought “what’s that? Isn’t that to do with horse racing?”). 
Managing an after school club in a school meant I was furloughed (thankfully a quick internet search gave me the correct definition and yes I learnt that a ‘furlong’ is actually not a ‘furlough’!). As such I had plenty of time on my hands to reflect and revisit my manuscript.

Frankly at no other time had I heard so much about the topic of loneliness, as to prevent the spread of coronavirus people were told to ostracise from one another. Actually at the time of writing Loneliness versus Being Alone 4.2 million people in England identified themselves as lonely and there were globally 63 million cases (and rising) of Covid-19. 
Unfortunately, I now see the residue of loneliness seeping through the veins of society. It seems that it has become a type of pandemic in itself but one that possibly is not treated as seriously as it should be. 
I mean think about it, if you have a toothache where do you go? If you’re anything like me you reluctantly, but expeditiously, find a dentist. Or what about a chronic stomach ache or a terrible ear ache? In all of these ailments it is common practise to find some kind of remedy to ease your excruciating pain. However, what do we do when we experience loneliness or what Professor Etzkorn interestingly calls a ‘soul-ache’? (i). Do we seek help and talk to someone or do we just ‘get on with it’ in a hope to get through it somehow?
Loneliness versus Being Alone aims to provide some kind of guidance and strategy from a Biblical perspective of how we can treat our ‘soul-aches’. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have been observant of others and have had my own bouts of deep loneliness that has found its relief in the Word of God. I personally have felt that loneliness can be like a tiger sitting patiently in the bushes. At the most unexpected moments it pounces on its prey. 
Yet there is a way to slay this giant called ‘loneliness’. To assist you this book has been helpfully dissected into two sections. Part one openly and honestly discusses the definition and some causes of loneliness. There is also exploration into my own story of bereavement and financial problems explaining its effects on my life.

Part two delves into the joy and triumph of solitude focusing on the biblical accounts of Jesus, Jacob and Hannah. Just like these biblical characters we all need that alone time to reflect and recharge before that proverbial ‘rubber band’ that surrounds our lives snaps due to unwanted stress. 

Through Loneliness versus Being Alone it is my intention to take you, the reader, on a journey from isolation to beautiful solitude. So if you want to enjoy the ride – please jump on board!

Julie Porter is a Child Care Practitioner and Child Mentor by profession. As well as being a licensed minister she is also a part-time lecturer at a Christian training college and she specialises in teaching Christian counselling from Diploma to Master’s degree level

(i) Etzkorn, G. J., Reflections of a Christian Pilgrim.  Milton Keynes, U.K., Author House, 2007


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Baptist Times, 24/11/2021
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