Overcoming the Struggle of Loneliness
You’re busy getting hubby and kids ready for the day, you’re happy and love them very much but there’s a part of you that finds strength being around them. You’re very aware that once they leave for work and school, the house won’t have that beautiful sound of the breakfast work / school rush and you will be left alone in silence to go about your own day. When they leave, the uncomfortable silence sets in and suddenly you can hear the birds chirping outside and the sound of your own movements. Loneliness sets in and you’re not sure what to do next. You find anything at all to distract you from this troubling sense of loneliness. Day in and day out this is how you feel and you just can’t understand it but you hate being alone.
Or how about this:
You’re at an event, you look around the room at the different circles of people and all the different conversations going on. Some seem to be very serious intense conversations, some happy and laughing, some joking. You’re very aware that you’re standing either alone or in a circle of people you don’t really fit in with. Your mind trails off to that underlying sense of loneliness you feel even in a room of people, and you feel overwhelmed by the crowd. Social anxiety sets in and you wish you could just leave but you also know that when you do, you will be in the uncomfortable silence of your loneliness and there won’t be anyone to distract you and so you stay. You join conversations trying your best to be interested in what’s going on but your mind keeps trailing off into a world of your own while you fake some smiles and laughs to make it look like you’re paying attention to them. In the meanwhile, you have a burning sense of loneliness inside of you.
At some point in our lives, we have all felt this way and can relate. For some of us, this is a daily struggle that we need to try and overcome or distract ourselves from. For me, loneliness is something that comes and goes. I decided to do a little study and write this article in hopes to bring some encouragement to you.
What is Loneliness?
If we look in the dictionary, the description of the word loneliness is a sadness because one has no company or friends. If this is the case, then why do we even feel this way in a room full of people? If we look at the synonyms for the word l0oneliness, we will see that it is feelings of isolation, being excluded, abandonment or rejection.
Loneliness includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication. It can be felt when we’re alone, even when we’re surrounded by other people. It can be felt in marriages, relationships, families and even in those with successful careers. It’s not an uncommon feeling, although for many it is temporary and some more permanent depending on their life circumstances or experiences.
The effects of Loneliness
Loneliness is linked with depression and can be a risk factor for suicide. It affects relationships, being able to function daily and can even affect our health. Chronic loneliness has proven to have links to physical health issues as it increases Cortisol in the body. High Cortisol can cause anxiety, depression, digestive, heart and sleep problems, as well as weight gain.
What does the Bible say about loneliness?
The Bible doesn’t directly speak about loneliness but we can take a look at a few characters in the Bible who spoke of feelings of despair and loneliness or fear when being alone.
Elijah felt lonely and afraid after he fleed into a far away desert when Queen Jezebel wanted to kill all those who worshipped God. He cried out to God with feelings of fear and loneliness. God told Him that there are still other friends who also worship God and love him who would be there for him. He comforted him and told him to be brave. In this story we learn that loneliness doesn’t come from being alone, it comes from thinking we are alone.
1 Kings 19:1-18
Jeremiah wrestled with a great sense of loneliness and defeat, he was very insecure. He suffered great rejection from people he loved and reached out to. God had called Him to preach, not marry or have children. In the midst of it all he was a man of great spiritual faith and cried out to God honestly as he wrestled with his despair. Despite his loneliness he followed God’s calling for His life. In Jeremiah 15 we see his desperate cry to God. In this we learn that when we feel lonely or despaired we cry out to God but we remain faithful to Him, He understands.
David battled with depression and feelings of deep despair and loneliness. We see all throughout the Psalms how he calls on God, worships and praises Him through His loneliness asking God to come into those lonely places and fill the void. David longed to be connected with God and brutally honest about his feelings to God. Through David we learn that when we speak to God about our feelings we can know we can be honest with God about how we are feeling. God is someone we can be real with and our relationship with Him is a safe place, it’s ok to tell Him how you are feeling.
During Jesus’ time on earth he was rejected, ridiculed, laughed at during His time here on earth. He must of experienced a great level of loneliness, grief and despair as He walked this earth. If anyone understands loneliness it would be Jesus. On the cross when Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world, there was even a moment where He felt lonely when He cried out to His Father asking why He had forsaken Him. We learn here that even Jesus understood loneliness and despair, which means we can certainly express our feelings to Him because he understands.
How do we overcome loneliness?
We can take a look at some of God’s promises in the Bible.
God recognised loneliness in Adam and He saw it was not good, so He created a companion for Him in Eve. Genesis 2:18
We are designed to be in community with others. By God’s design we have a need to be loved and to feel like we belong. When that need for affection and fellowship goes unfulfilled, we experience loneliness.
A walk with God is a solid foundation for building healthy relationships with others. God designed us for fellowship with Him and fellowship with others. If we seek Him at all times and are in relationship with Him, He will comfort us in our moments of loneliness or despair. If we take a look at how some of the characters in the Bible dealt with their loneliness, we find the answers.
“Keep my eyes always on the Lord, with Him at my right hand I will not be shaken” Psalm 16:8
God is all around us, His presence never leaves us. He promises to never leave or forsake us and in Romans 8:31-39 we also learn that nothing can separate us from His love. It may feel like we’re alone but if we seek God we will find Him. He promises to give us rest when we are troubled or burdened.
” Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7
Sometimes we put God in a little box and take Him out when we need Him and if we do that we won’t feel how close He is to us. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us and be with us all the time. Keep that line of communication open, He loves us so deeply.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you” James 4:8
“There is a friend closer than a brother” Proverbs 18:24
God created us, He loves and cares for us deeply. He may not have promised that life here on earth would be easy but He does promise to be there for us, to comfort us, to bring us rest and peace, to bring us joy through His Holy Spirit who is with us all the time.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3
Create an environment for yourself to experience the love of God whenever you’re feeling this way and take rest and comfort in Him.
I pray this gives you some encouragement knowing that you are not alone in this struggle.