TOPIC: Lonely But Not Alone
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SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 4:10-11, NLT
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me.” (Psalm 27:10)
By Aaron D’Anthony Brown
What Is Loneliness?
Patterns look good when quilted into a blanket or when decorating a plaid shirt. We even enjoy the patterns of routine, bumping into the same faces on our way to work or sitting down yet again to enjoy our favorite meal. However, seldom do we enjoy patterns that are undesired and challenging, those that leave us feeling crummy inside. Such is the case with loneliness, a feeling we experience as children and one that inevitably follows us into adulthood forever.
Loneliness set in when our mother first dropped us off at daycare, then again when our spouse headed out of town for work. Our reasons for being lonely vary, but we all know the feeling. And we should all know that loneliness is a pattern, one we will experience time and time again. Maybe not in the next hour or the next day, but eventually.
What is loneliness? Loneliness describes the disconnect we experience when the reality of our relationships does not match our expectations. In other words, we want something we do not have. We experience this when sitting by ourselves at home on the couch with a box of pizza or when hanging out with a group of people at a crowded restaurant. The situations vary, but the experience is the same.
We want something we do not have. Loneliness carries with it a familiar anguish, a longing that goes unquenched. Sometimes, the sensation lasts so long we doubt whether or not we will ever see change. But loneliness is a pattern, and every pattern has to end before starting again.
Thus, no matter how much we lament loneliness, much like any other form of suffering, God can and will use our pain for good (Romans 8:28). We just have to let Him. The next time you’re at the crossroads of loneliness, consider these five things you can do to make the most of the experience.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Connect with God
When you’re feeling lonely, remember you always have God. In fact, we would do well to remember God is always with us, in the presence of crowded markets and in the privacy of our homes. Too often, when loneliness creeps in, our doubts about God build. We wonder where He has gone and why He has left us in the first place. He hasn’t.
Instead, the lonely feeling is an indicator that there is distance between us, distance we have created. Fill the void by seeking Him earnestly and openly. Tell Him how you feel, why, and ask for a change. Or even better, to use loneliness to develop you.
Connect with Others
Loneliness can also prove to be motivational for going out and connecting with people. Whether you’re looking to date or make new friends, or just have a good conversation, sometimes you have to go out and search for what you want instead of just waiting. There’s no doubt that God answers our prayers, but we are instructed to add action to our prayers. Maybe then we’ll see the results we want.
Loneliness may feel unfair, unjust, and cumbersome, and all of those things may be true, but sometimes we find ourselves in lonely seasons because of decisions that we ourselves have made. Single parents who could have worked things out now feel emptiness after ending their marriages. The dishonest friend feels the sting of loneliness after committing yet another betrayal. The solution then is to confess your sins, repent, and, where possible, pursue reconciliation.
Plan for the Future
One way to look at the lonely season is a time of preparation for what is to come. You don’t have what you want right now, but one day you could. If that happens, how can you better serve God during the time that you have today? Does the Lord want you to grow in any particular way? If so, embracing how He wants to grow you today will only make you better for what happens tomorrow.
Change your Perspective
Loneliness doesn’t feel great, but loneliness will feel worse without the right perspective. We don’t have to enjoy what we’re going through to make the most of the experience. Most of us don’t enjoy breakups, but most will attest to growing from the experience. Struggles have the potential to make and break us. The deciding factor is perspective.
One way to ensure you have the right perspective is to remember you may be lonely, but you are not alone. You are never alone.
Aaron D’Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He’s an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”