Well, isn’t that a title that makes you want to jump in and gobble up this post!? But it’s a subject that’s been on my heart for a while now, and one that I believe God has given me some insights to share with you.
First, true confessions. I’ve been struggling with loneliness A LOT lately. Not really surprising since the words “lonely” and “widow” are often linked together. Of course, I miss not living my life with Dale – and memories continue to make my heart ache for those bygone days.
A widow friend, whose husband died about 8 years ago, told me early on that loneliness was one of the hardest parts of being a widow. And she said it gets worse over time because she has now been without him for more years. Yep, I can certainly relate to that. Getting harder, not easier.
Despite my best efforts to stay active with church and friends and the ministry, the reality is that I spend the large majority of my time alone. Yes, my pets definitely help, but they’re no substitute for human interaction.
Because the circumstances leading to this loneliness aren’t going to change, i.e. Dale’s NOT coming back, I realize that I am the one who needs to change – or at least figure out how to navigate through this.
This season of loneliness has opened up my eyes to a new reality. MANY people live lonely lives! I’m starting to see this condition in a whole new light. Widows certainly don’t have the corner of the market on loneliness. Anyone who is single or divorced or childless must certainly fight these same emotions.
And one doesn’t have to BE alone to be lonely. Many people in unfulfilled relationships suffer as well. Maybe you are an empty-nester and your loneliness is a result of a quiet house now that the kids are gone.
I just did a quick Google search on “the loneliness crisis” and I was shocked at how many articles address this subject. One study suggests that nearly half of their respondents describe themselves as lonely. Another study called loneliness an epidemic and a public health crisis more serious than obesity.
Of course, everyone has an opinion on what’s behind this crisis, from sleep deprivation to social media to prescription drugs. There’s no shortage of opinions on the causes or the solutions.
But for the believer, that solution list might look a bit different. As I’ve prayed over this and studied the scriptures, here are some of the insights God has graciously given to me.
- My loneliness is not unique. Even Jesus knew loneliness, and certainly never more than as he was dying on the cross. David wrote endless passages in the Psalms about his times of loneliness. So, to a certain degree, it IS one of the sorrows we will suffer in this lifetime. And there is comfort in knowing that our Savior experienced a loneliness greater than we can imagine. He understands this pain.
- Focus on eternity. I find GREAT comfort in thinking about spending eternity with Jesus and my loved ones in heaven. Meditating on God’s promises of no more tears, no more sadness, no more sorrow, no more LONELINESS, is a great balm for my soul!
- Be grateful for times of fellowship. I want to appreciate more and more the time I spend with good friends. We were not created to live in isolation. God wants us living in fellowship with others, and I want to soak up that joy and preserve it for as long as I can! Maybe even take a portion of it into my lonely days and nights.
- Deepen my relationship with God. There’s no better time for this than when a heart is hurting and longing for relief. God’s word is full of promises to bring joy and peace to your soul. In fact, just this morning as I was contemplating this blog topic, God brought this scripture to my mind: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3. Boy, it doesn’t get any better than that! Lord, help me to run to you for comfort in my loneliness.
- Learn to rest in God alone. I know this is similar to the previous point, but I want to stress that sometimes we need to learn contentment in our loneliness. Be careful what you use to fill up your lonely life, or substitute as a temporary fix. God is all-sufficient.
- Do something for others. This is good advice for anyone at any time! Pouring ourselves into someone else’s life, especially someone who is hurting, shifts the focus from our pain to their comfort. I know it’s so hard to get started on this one, but the rewards are many!
So, if you are one of the many who struggles with loneliness, you are not alone! That knowledge, however, is generally not enough to make any of us feel any better. Know that Jesus is our forever friend, one who sticks closer than a brother. He will never leave us or forsake us. Pour out your heart to him, and then let him pour his love back into you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.