Ironically, loneliness is something which binds us all together. Introvert or extrovert, nomad wanderer or family man, no matter who or where you are, we all feel alone sometimes. I’ve been told there’s no loneliness like a life of being single, and I believe it. I’ve also been told there’s no loneliness like being married and yet on your own. I believe that, too. Loneliness is a hallmark of the human condition.
When Adam and Eve fell, they became separated in all their relationships – from each other, from Creation itself and from God. And their descendants inherited their misery. All our associations have become a daily struggle. We misunderstand our friends and malign our enemies instead of ministering to those around us. We fight with the weeds in our yard rather than cooperating with the soil to bring life and color into the world. And we are prone to forget God within moments of knowing His gracious presence with us. You are not experiencing anything strange or unexpected when you feel alone, but loneliness IS a painful form of suffering.
So what can you do about it?
- Accept it. You will never cure all your loneliness in this life. Like a clap of thunder on a sunny day, it can strike you at any time, out of the blue. Loneliness sometimes triggers sorrow, frustration, confusion, desperation, anxiety and the feeling that we must be doing something wrong. While you cannot cure all your loneliness, you can refuse to give in to the temptations that come with it, temptations to believe and to do things to fight it, to explain it and to end it. Instead, accept it. It comes with being human. There is something better ahead. If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world (CS Lewis). You are just going to be lonely for a little while here, and that’s OK. Everyone else is, too.
- Connect with others. The walk of faith was never meant to be a solo journey. Even before the Fall God said it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Jesus Himself had friends, and He sent his disciples out two by two. God placed us in families, in neighborhoods and nations so we could reach toward the hands and hearts of those around us. The church needs you, and you need the church. Even if it scares you, you were made for relationship. I always tell people that it takes between three and five attempts to make a new friend. Devise a prayerful plan, and be ready to persevere. It’s worth it.
- Connect with creation. Even if you have a terminally brown thumb like me, you can find ways to enjoy nature. I find that spending five minutes outside (even in the Florida heat) brings me a peace I cannot find indoors. One of my favorite activities is snorkeling where I experience a beautiful world normally witnessed by God alone. He made us for garden life, so get out there. Take a walk. Get a plant or a pet. Arrange some flowers. Paint a landscape.
- Connect with God. Read Romans 8. Even when you don’t feel it, you are NEVER ALONE, NEVER UNLOVED, NEVER HOPELESS. God knows intimately all your circumstances, your blessings and the heart groanings even you don’t understand. If He loved you enough to send His only Son to die for you, why would He abandon you now? Stay in God’s word. Study it with others. Pray at every opportunity and in every state of mind. Keep a gratefulness journal.
You cannot finally cure your loneliness by doing these things, but sometimes you will get a taste of the future which waits for us in which we will never be lonely again.