Do you have lonely days? I know I do. I’ve had lonely seasons- some of them were longer than I’d like to admit.
I believe loneliness has something to offer that can free us from ourselves, and we have something to offer that can free us from loneliness.
Epidemic of Loneliness
Somehow being surrounded by a large number of people and being connected to hundreds on social media can leave us feeling more lonely if we don’t have the meaningful connections in our lives that God designed us for.
Having lived in Chicago for four years, I remember the pangs of loneliness that would often rise in my chest when I was surrounded by people. Any of you who have or do live in a large city know what I’m talking about.
People, people everywhere, but not a soul to care or connect with me. I’ve spent many evenings alone in the country with crickets chirping and the sun setting, and not a soul for quite a distance. Those evenings never carried the depth of loneliness I felt surrounded by so many on a crowded sidewalk or train.
I marvel at young people sitting silent on a bench staring at their phones. Something catches in my throat when I discover they are sitting quietly texting each other when they could have been engaging with one another in conversation.
Social media can leave us with that hollow feeling. We may have hundreds of friends, but no one to sit by our side when we really need it. Scrolling only leaves us feeling more disconnected from real relationship.
Loneliness Has Something To Offer
This kind of superficial connection to so many but lack of deep, meaningful connection can leave us feeling worse than ever. But before we look at simple, practical ways to break free of that painful pang in the chest, let’s look at what loneliness has to offer.
Loneliness, like longing have a place in life. They serve a crucial purpose.
I can barely handle reading the stories of children who don’t experience pain. They put their hand on a stove or in a fire… I can’t even go on. God gave us the sense of touch and a super complicated, amazingly integrated nervous system for a reason. If we don’t experience the pain, we don’t have the warning light going on when we are hurting and possibly permanently damaging ourselves.
I think things like loneliness, longing, and emptiness serve a similar purpose. They draw us close to the only One who can satisfy our deepest longings. They are like the warning light on our car saying some crucial element has run out that is necessary to moving forward. They are like the string on your finger to remind you that you were made for something more, something better- eternity.
They bring us to the brink where we realize we can either go to God for what we need or nurture that hollow empty feeling until it eats us up. They draw us to the One who longs to spend time with us, to listen, to comfort us, and to guide us through whatever we are going through. Only in fellowship with Him can we have true joy and fulfillment.
We Have Something To Offer To Free Us From Loneliness
Loneliness is also designed to compel us to connect to each other in meaningful ways. For some people, whether it is personality or past hurt, their warning light turned off long ago- or never actually turned on in childhood. Yet, God has made clear in His word that relationship is to be the heart of our life in Him (See Hebrews 10:24-25 and 1 John 3). A vital part of this is our relationship with one another.
Each of us has something to offer that can free us from loneliness.
We can reach out with honesty, vulnerability, and transparency to engage with those around us. We can call a family member that lives far away, text a friend for a coffee date, or plan a much needed conversation.
Seeking Friendships That Go Both Ways
We might just need to state what we need. This is super hard for me. It’s my main focus for growth right now. I somehow feel guilty or like I’m putting someone out or obligating them if I ask for help or friendship. I’m sure I’m not the only one that wrestles with this. You might feel like you aren’t good enough or have nothing to offer.
Whatever might be holding you back, you might just need to reach out to a safe person and tell them that you need a friend. Tell them why you would like them to be a friend to you. What about their character draws you to them? What specifically do you need? Someone to:
- call when you are struggling with temptation?
- have a heartfelt conversation with once a month?
- just have adult conversation with when the kids are playing?
- share a laugh with?
- go hiking with?
- call you out when you need it?
- give you advice?
- encourage you forward?
Sometimes we just need to ask. To not give up asking until we have the meaningful relationships He has designed us for. I have tended to be the kind of person that gives and gives but doesn’t have in place the mutual friendships that go both ways. This has been a struggle for me- one I’m working on. But these connections are vital for us all.
Giving Of Ourselves
Another simple way to get out of that lonely feeling is to serve others. To love others expecting nothing in return. To share the best news there is- that God loved us so much that He sacrificed His own Son so that we could have a relationship with Him now and forever. Getting out of ourselves is sometimes the best way to get rid of gnawing loneliness.
Be Free of the Bonds of Loneliness
If you are feeling lonely, it doesn’t have to eat you up. Let your thoughts be transformed by God’s truth. Thank Him for the signal light in your soul to compel you to Him and others. Gratitude grows joy.
Sip Life Slowly
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Photo edited from: Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash