Word for Word 3/23/22

Pastor Laura Gentry
Pastor Laura Gentry

Feeling lonely?

You’re not alone. In our country, more than a quarter of adults over age 60 live alone, according to a Pew Research Survey. Of them, 43 percent reported feeling lonely even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation which has worsened in the past two years.

Young people are lonely, too. In fact, new Harvard research suggests feelings of social isolation are on the rise and that those hardest hit are older teens and young adults.

Whatever your age, loneliness has significant health consequences. One study found that loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and contributes to early mortality because it puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, dementia, and depression.

This news sparked a conversation at our church. We wondered what we could do about it and how we could offer more support to our community. Marlene Duffy explained that she used to run a program she developed called “When Relationships Change” to bring people together for a meal and conversation around how to get through the difficulties life throws at you.

Marlene understands because she’s had her share of pain. She was mother of three young children and pregnant with her fourth, when her husband died tragically in an accident. Having to give birth without him, then provide for all her children as she was grieving was a harrowing ordeal.

It was only because of her faith and her dedicated supporters, Marlene says, that she made it through that terrible time. Now she is committed to giving back so that others who are facing a change in their relationships can find support for the long road ahead.

With the loneliness epidemic growing, we decided it was time to bring the “When Relationships Change” program to our church. “One of the things people always liked about these events,” said Marlene, “is that we provide a meal so you don’t have to cook for yourself that night and it’s a social environment so you can just sit and visit and we don’t even ask you to RSVP. We know you’re busy and can’t necessarily plan ahead. So just show up. We’ve got enough food for everybody!”

Our Savior’s Lutheran has scheduled our first “When Relationships Change” event for Thursday, March 31. We’ll begin at 4:30 p.m. at 480 Diagonal Street in Lansing. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m. and a program featuring April Mulholland McQuade will follow at 6 p.m. She will share personal stories of her struggles and how she endured and even found a way to give back to her community.

The event is free and you don’t need to make a reservation. There will be an opportunity to make a donation if you feel so moved. We’ll continue to meet on the fifth Thursday of the month, which means the next meeting will be held in June.

“I am really excited to bring this program back to life!” said Marlene. “I just think it’s so needed right now. I hope lots of people will come, especially young people.”

Consider this your personal invitation. We’d like you to join us next Thursday, particularly if you’re facing a change in your relationships such as death of a loved one, break up, divorce, illness, job change, retirement or general pandemic loneliness.

Whatever your circumstances, we want you to know that you’re not alone. Life is tough but we have each other and that’s the magic that can get us through it.

Rev. Laura Gentry
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Lansing