As long as I can remember, loneliness has been my unwanted companion. I’ve tried everything I know to completely eradicate it, to no avail. But the only way I found hope despite my loneliness was through faith and fellowship.
Many of you reading right now are struggling with deep, gnawing loneliness. I understand where you are coming from–I’m dealing with it myself right now. I want to give you the hope I’ve found, and I am happy to be featured on my friend Misty’s podcast today, talking about finding hope despite our loneliness.
The Problem of Loneliness
Loneliness is an epidemic in our fast-paced, machine-driven society. But it’s always been part of the human condition.
Even in the ideal, sinless Garden of Eden, Adam was alone, and God said it was “not good.” We are created in God’s image. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit live perfectly in relationship to one another. Because we are patterned after God, we crave communion with God and with others. That’s how we are designed.
If we don’t seek a relationship with God, we feel lost and lonely inside, no matter how many people surround us. I remember feeling lonely in my high school band class with over 225 people in the same room. I’ve felt haunting loneliness at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, surrounded by 40,000 other baseball fans. In the times I was furthest away from God, my loneliness screamed inside.
Even as my relationship with God developed, I sometimes struggled to connect with others. You can have a thriving relationship with God, but you still need people. I had to bravely reach out and risk being rejected, as I had been many times before, to find new friends. This can feel difficult, maybe even impossible, if you are overwhelmed and discouraged by loneliness.
Easing loneliness requires a time investment. If you are too busy to spend time with God and others every week, your loneliness will only increase. You must carve out time to cultivate your faith and nurture relationships with others. As you do, your loneliness will slowly decrease and you will find hope and healing.You can have a thriving relationship with God, but you still need people. #loneliness #faith Click To Tweet
My Story of Loneliness
My loneliness began as a child of divorced parents. It continued through high school, when I became so lonely I began planning how I would take my own life. But God rescued me from my depression that fed my loneliness and set me on a new path.
In college, my faith grew, but I still struggled with loneliness. Since high school, I have always felt less comfortable with my peers than with older people or much younger people. Making social connections in college was difficult for me. My loneliness became extreme, and I sought relief from it through a whirlwind romance and engagement.
As many of you have discovered, marriage is not a cure for loneliness. My husband and I have endured many marriage trials, which served to increase my loneliness rather than decrease it. I never imagined that the sharp loneliness I felt as a child and young adult would be even more painful as a married woman, but it’s true. Perhaps you also have struggled with loneliness in your marriage.
I’ve learned to view loneliness differently than I did when I was younger. I see it as a gift now, even though I still deal with it almost every day. You’ll hear me talk more about this on the podcast.You can learn to view #loneliness as a gift. Click To Tweet
Finding Hope Through Faith
The Bible says that Jesus was a man of sorrows, and I’m certain his sorrows include loneliness. Last night, I was reading a book called Living With Thorns, and I gained new insight into a time when Jesus must have felt lonely. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked his disciples to stay with him. The book showed me that the disciples were physically present but not emotionally present with Jesus. His resolute response at the end of his prayer hints at his deep loneliness in his time of need.
The good news is that Jesus understands all our feelings, especially loneliness. Surely there is no lonelier moment than when he was separated from his Father to pay the price for our sins on the cross. This character quality of Jesus makes me feel closer to him. I draw comfort from knowing that he understands my pain.
I also feel comforted knowing that he is always with me through prayer. His word promises that he will never leave or forsake us. When my oldest fear, the fear of abandonment, haunts me, I meditate on this promise and feel God embrace me with comfort.Jesus understands all our feelings, especially #loneliness. Click To Tweet
Finding Hope Through Fellowship
The most trustworthy place I’ve found restorative fellowship is in the Church. I capitalize this word because the Church can be many things. It may be a gathering of confirmed members of one church body. Fellowship could be a Mothers of Preschoolers group along with mentor moms. It is sometimes an interdenominational Bible study or a group of Christian coworkers. The point is, wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, you can find the Church.
If you have been hurt by the Church before, I understand your pain. In the past three years, I have had to change jobs, change our longstanding church membership, and change our children’s school due to vicious attacks by others who call themselves believers. Jesus told us that many within the Church will be like wolves in sheep’s clothing.
But I assure you, the majority of people in the Church are loving, caring (yet imperfect) Christians who are glad to make friends with you. You must find the courage to try again, and God will help you.The majority of people in the Church are loving, caring (yet imperfect) Christians who can help ease your #loneliness. Click To Tweet
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