Unfortunately Jim Fixx was truely the lone runner. This man could have been the ideal physical specimen of cariovascular fitness excellence. His book, Complete Book of Running, started the 1970's jogging craze, and he died suddenly at the age of 52 while jogging alone on a remote Vermont road.
His autopsy showed that one of his coronary arteries was 99% clogged, another was 80% obstructed, and a third was 70% blocked and that he had three other apparently silent heart attacks in the months or weeks prior to his death. This desparately lonely man had just gone through his second divorce. His acquaintances acknowledged he was a lonely person and a lonely long distance runner.
The researchers have discovered many premature deaths that they believe could be the result of a breakdown in dialogue and communication due to these individuals' inability to express the language of their own heart. In their isolation they lost their community connections.
Current research today agrees that loneliness can kill. Lonely people have blood pressure readings as much as 30 points higher than non-lonely people, said the study leaders Louise Hawkley and Christopher Masi. Blood pressure differences between lonely and non-lonely people were smallest at age 50 and greatest among the oldest people tested.
What are we to do with the pain? I love people ... all kinds of people, but there have been times in the last few years that I avoided people and isolated myself. Many people have admitted to me they have hit points in their lives when this was true for them also.
I am learning the power and wonder of solitude. There is a great difference in loneliness and solitude; although I am alone in both.
Dr. Charles Stanley explains the difference well:
Sometimes He will give you essential knowledge that will protect you from the danger that lies ahead in your life.
He will remind you of His promises and guide you to new milestones in life.
How can we turn loneliness into solitude?
No one wants loneliness, but all of us want solitude that is blessed by God in so many awesome ways.
How can we exchange one for the other?
First, we can see this opportunity as a gift from God. Instead of focusing on the absence of people, we can focus on the presence of the greatest friend any person can have.
- Second, we can understand solitude as a wonderful opportunity to get to know God.
Some of the situations that preceded my lonely times were sudden and I felt their force. In the Bible in the book of Mark Jesus is (suddenly) sent by Holy Spirit to the desert. Mark sums up that 40 day desert time with the comforting truth that angels ministered to Jesus during His time alone in the desert.
I live In Christ... I hold onto this truth: as angels ministered to Jesus, they will minister to me. I pray that any loneliness can become solitude to God's own sons and daughters.