Loneliness is an aching awareness of the absence of people who care about you because they know you. It’s easy to feel lonely standing in a big crowd. It’s easy to feel lonely while others around you laugh and have a good time. Loneliness is an emptiness that others may have no idea you endure.
If you feel lonely right now, I’m very sorry. You deserve someone who gets you, cares about stuff you care about, and listens to you. This is not the way life should work. Loneliness is a consequence of humanity’s fall.
I want to extend a little encouragement and suggest a plan for moving from empty to full. Loneliness is not a destination. It is a fog endured along the way. It is a season—sometimes a long season—but it is not permanent. You will get through this. Until the season passes, consider these thoughts:
When you feel lonely, you can fall into discouragement. “I have no one to eat dinner with,” can slide into “Nobody likes me.” Be careful of believing there are zero options for people to hangout-with; it’s likely that you have options—they just might be lesser or complicated options. Also, watch out for thoughts that the loneliness defines you. There is so much more to you than your loneliness! If you’re not careful, loneliness left to become self-defining, can slip into self-loathing and even depression. You are worth getting to know. You are worth befriending. You are worthy of love, because you have been made in the image of God. Do not forget this! Take action to counter loneliness before it takes a darker turn in your heart.
When you feel lonely, you need encouragement from the Bible. After all, it’s alive and has the power to cut through the fog, to fill up empty places. Here are several passages to apply to your heart. Don’t just skim them quickly; ask the Holy Spirit to minister to your heart, and stroll slowly through each—leaning-in to hear God speak.
- “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)
- “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.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
- “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me!” (Psalm 22:19 NIV)
- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
- “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19 NIV)
When you feel lonely, you are tempted to reach for sin. Be on your guard. The adversary will turn up the heat of temptation on those starving for attention and affection. He advertises comfort through gluttony, drunkenness, and sexual sin. Please remember, our adversary is a liar. If he can get us to bite on one of these lures, he follows our sin with heaps of shame. The promise of making things better flips into the regret of making things worse. So be alert.
In the fog of feeling alone, the instinct is to hide or sit and wait for someone to pursue you. Please fight that thought. If you crave connection, take action. Try these three baby steps for moving from empty to full.
- Take a baby step and text someone about grabbing some food. People you know are battling a similar fog. Your text message might be the answer to their loneliness prayers. Take a baby step and ask someone about meeting for a meal. Don’t assume they will spot how fragile you are. You might not end up as life-long friends, but you might enjoy hanging out, and that will be good for your soul. The goal is not finding a new best friend; the goal is addressing the loneliness. The cure for loneliness is connecting with people who listen to you and show interest in the good or bad that’s happening around your life. Scroll through your contacts and send someone a text. It’s a baby step.
- Take a baby step and get out of the house. Go to a coffee shop or other place that is a predictable gathering place of friends and acquaintances. You never know who you’ll run into. Sitting around feeling lonely at home leads to sinking down into deeper discouragement. Get up. Grab your keys. Grab your phone. Get out.
- Take a baby step toward new connections at church. You’re going to have to find out where people your age gather at church. And then you’re going to have to show-up. Finally, you’re going to have to ask the pastor or leader about the best way to meet people. That part is critical. Don’t be afraid. This is one of the main things church leaders do–they help people get connected. The leader will understand and fix you up. Remember, the default mode of church people is to treat others with grace. Undoubtedly, you can run across grace-withholders, but most people in church love Jesus and can’t wait to imitate His love. Sitting in a crowded room will not automatically result in a new friend. You’re going to have to take some baby steps and talk to a leader. You’re going to have to step up.
No one but you knows just how much your lonely moments hurt. Jesus has come into the world for many reasons, including a desire to redeem and reverse this pain of being alone. As you read above, He has overcome the world! He wants to help you belong. Ask Him to fill what is empty and then start taking some baby steps toward other people.
What are your experiences with loneliness? What suggestions do you have for those feeling alone? Use the comment space below to weigh-in.
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