By Warren Olson
Clayton Lonetree spent 9 years in prison—and you might say that loneliness put him there.
Lonetree was a US Marine assigned to guard duty at the American embassy in Moscow. The weather was cold and dreary, and he didn’t get much mail from back home. He even tried to write to an old girlfriend, only to receive a reply saying she’d married someone else.
Then, in the fall of 1985, Lonetree met Violetta Seina, a tall, beautiful, 25-year-old Russian woman who was working as a translator at the embassy. Lonetree quickly fell in love.
Violetta told Lonetree that she wanted him to meet her Uncle Sasha. So they met—and Uncle Sasha was unusually interested in Lonetree’s job at the embassy. But Lonetree didn’t think much of it. After all, it was nice to have someone who actually wanted to talk with him.
Then one day, Sasha pulled a prepared list of detailed questions from his pocket—and Clayton finally realized that “Violetta” and “Uncle Sasha” both worked for the KGB.
But Lonetree was so glad to have friends—and so desperately in love with Violetta—that he maintained the relationship with the two of them. He made excuses to his superiors for sneaking out to meet with them. And eventually, the two KGB agents convinced Lonetree to hand over classified documents—a map of the embassy, as well as photographs and names of CIA operatives in the Soviet Union.
It was at a Christmas party in 1986 that Lonetree could no longer bear the burden of his double life. He approached his CIA chief and told him, “I’m in something way over my head.” Lonetree was arrested, tried, convicted of espionage, and spent nine years in military prison.
Lonetree’s story shows us what can happen when our loneliness makes us vulnerable to lies. And as I talk with many seniors today, I’m astounded at the lies many of them have accepted as truth—mainly because they’re lonely.
Many of these are lies about others: “This person doesn’t like you” or “That person is just cruel.” Others are lies about yourself: “You’re not worth their time.” or “You’re unlovable.” And if we continue to believe the loneliness lies, we reach a point where we get in way over our heads—spiraling into isolation.
But the solution to overcoming loneliness—and avoiding the lies of the world, the flesh, and the enemy—is simple: Remember God’s promises.
It seems not a week goes by that I don’t hear from seniors who feel isolated—people who are struggling with feeling like outsiders. And when I do, there’s one promise I love to share with them. It’s found it Isaiah 41:10…
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
What I love about this promise is that it shows us that God’s presence (“I am with you”) and His power (“I will strengthen you”) go hand in hand. When we remember God’s presence in the midst of our loneliness, we’re able to access His power to combat the negative thoughts that tend to flood our minds when we feel lonely.
So whenever you feel lonely, don’t let yourself become vulnerable to those negative thoughts. Remember what God promises you: “I am with you” and “I will strengthen you”—and you’ll defeat the lies of loneliness!
Find more resources on how you can overcome loneliness in this Resource Library today!