You don’t have any friends. (Or at least imagine that you don’t.)
What would a friendless life be like? Doubtless, one would find herself at the very least exceptionally bored. While some may enjoy the thought of always being to oneself 24/7, I suspect that even those people would realize that she can only take so much of herself for so long. The longer time persists without such a basic relationship that is so surprisingly intrinsic to the human experience, the emptier she begins to feel. The quest for significance becomes shockingly dim. A yearning to be known, seen, touched, loved—a desperation to belong—surfaces that she never realized was there before. This burning sensation for connection with other people screams from every fiber of her being, her anatomy, biology, psychology—even her spirituality—longing for someone to reach out, know her name, look her in the eye, and notice her.
Such a desperation for friends pushes one to her limits. The aching of loneliness reaches deeper and deeper to the very depths of her soul, disrupting her sense of self-worth, her trust towards good people, and discipline to abstain from destructive habits. Such a desperation for friends alters her into an unpleasant person that ironically no one else wants to befriend. Such a desperation for friends leaves her lifeless, squandering any efforts to get out of the vicious turbulence of loneliness.
What would a friendless life be like? A friendless life goes against everything of what it means to be human. And certainly, it is a life no one wants to live.
THE FIRST PROBLEM
Many of us are aware of the creation story. In Genesis 1, we see God make the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon, the land and the sky and the sea, and all living creatures, and he calls them all good. But creation climaxes when mankind enters the scene, to which God labels as very good. God forms Adam out of the dust, and before him is a life full of opportunity—to nurture a magnificent garden and tend to its creatures, all while having a completely unhindered relationship with the Creator. Adam had it made. Literally. And nearly all of us would say that we’d love to be in Adam’s shoes; to live in the paradise of the Garden of Eden and have exceptional access to our God.
But would we really?
Shortly after the creation of Adam, we see God identify the first problem he had to solve for humanity. And contrary to popular belief, the first problem God had to solve wasn’t The Fall—it was loneliness.
Before sin and Satan as the serpent even enter the picture in Genesis 3, we see God look at Adam and say in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Everything else in creation had been labeledas good up to this point. Loneliness is the first thing that is labeled as not good. Thankfully, God is the ultimate problem solver, and tries to remedy Adam of his loneliness:
So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He have names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. – Genesis 2:19-20
Adam lived a friendless life. Despite having an unimaginable connection with the Lord, living in paradise, and working a great job of tending to the garden and naming its creatures, he was still missing an ingredient that defines what it means to be human.
He was missing a friend.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave Adam to drown in his loneliness. In fact, you probably already know the next part of the story. What God chooses to do to rid Adam of his loneliness reveals an essential element of how we are designed as human beings.
More next week.