Do you ever feel like you're standing perfectly still while everyone else is rushing past in a blur?
It seems bizarre to feel alone but not actually be alone. I guess it's because people seem to hold me the same way I hold them—at arm's length. Is there something wrong with me?
I feel disconnected from my family, isolated from people at church, and emotionally empty. Each day passes like the one before; my day is filled with paperwork and anonymous conversations while my evenings are relatively uneventful. I go to bed each night wondering when things will change. I want to pray for God to touch my life but I don't know how to ask or what to say.
Sometimes I try to reach out to others but it's always difficult and usually awkward. I don't want to be rejected and people don't really seem to notice that I'm even trying. Is there even any point in trying?
Despite being surrounded by people we may feel a deep sad emptiness and lack of acceptance. At its deepest spiritual level, loneliness springs from the fact that we were created with a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts and we are lonely until we find intimate companionship with Him. At the social level, we are made to love and be loved but loneliness occurs because people cannot satisfy those desires adequately. Only God can.
The story of Adam in Eden (Genesis 2, 3) shows man in a perfect relationship with God. That was part of His antidote to loneliness. But in spite of that God said it was not good for the man to be alone. Adam needed a companion like himself so God created Eve, one whom Adam could love and by whom he could be loved. When sin entered the scene, alienation from God and between the couple resulted.
God provided for restoration of intimacy with Himself through salvation, abiding in Christ, and ultimately heaven. He provided the antidote for loneliness in human relationships through friendship, marriage, family, and society.
Until we are finally in the presence of God with all His saints we will never get rid of all loneliness; it is an inescapable part of life. But we can control it. Here are a few things to help with loneliness.
- Question whether you have personality or character traits that cause you to alienate others or that others find unpleasant (e.g. anger, gossip, easily offended). Identify those and seek the Lord's grace to change what you can (cf. Proverbs 22:24).
- Remember the Lord loves you and will be with you. He will never leave you or forsake you (Isaiah 43:2-5; Hebrews 13:5). Memorize these verses and call them to mind when loneliness hits.
- Jesus Himself while on this earth experienced loneliness in the wilderness, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross when the Father separated from Him. Jesus can sympathize with us in our loneliness. Therefore we are told to go to Him to tell Him about it and seek the desire and power to handle it (Hebrews 4:15-16).
- Use your loneliness as a trigger to consider whether you expect people to completely satisfy your need for intimate companionship. If so, recognize their inability to do so and to instead draw closer to the Lord, trust Him and seek fulfilment of that need from Him.
- Realize that God can use loneliness to teach us lessons and build character (Romans 5:3-5). Humbly ask the Lord to show you what He would have you learn from your loneliness.
- Change your focus from inward to outward by ministering and encouraging others who may be lonely too. Although loneliness is universal, many who are recently divorced, in care homes, hospitals, or separated from family and friends experience it more acutely (Hebrews 10:23-24).