Loneliness

Do you wrestle with loneliness?

You are not alone.

Loneliness is experienced by many people, but few admit it. Admitting to feeling lonely is difficult because we worry no one will understand.

We find the subject of loneliness in the Psalms. David shares openly of his struggle with feeling lonely. David takes his neediness to the Lord, wanting Him to be aware of his pain and to help him with it. Here are two verses where we find the Psalmist crying out.

Psalm 25:16 “Turn to me and be gracious to me for I am lonely…”

Psalm 142:4  “Look to my right and see, no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge, no one cares for my life.’

Can you relate?

There have been times in my life when I have felt lonely. I remember feeling as though there was no one I could share my present reality with. No one that I could share my feelings about all that was happening in my life. And I wanted to talk with someone.

There are many different reasons for loneliness. Loneliness can be circumstantial. It may be because of moving away to a new town, or having an empty-nest. It could be that there has been a misunderstanding between friends or within your family. Loneliness also occurs when there is a loss of a spouse or close friend through death or divorce, or a separation of some kind.

Loneliness can be because of personal fear of sharing, putting up walls of self-protection. We sometimes choose to isolate ourselves because of fear of others criticism, judgment, or their reaction. We stuff our feelings because it seems as if no one will accept us if we share with them.

I know my depression stemmed from stuffing deep grief from childhood. I felt abandoned in my grief but didn’t feel heard when I tried to express it, so I crammed it deep inside. I chose to be busy and independent as I grew up. I ran away from the painful feelings as much as possible, until at one unexpected moment much later in life all of my pain poured out in sobs. I had walled off that part of me– and chose not to feel it or look at it. But then came the time when there no longer was a choice. I had to get to the bottom of it all.

Loneliness can come about out of shame too. A choice we or a family member made, one that seemed like the only way out at the time, leaving us now feeling alone and afraid to share. What will people say? What will they think? How will they look at me if they knew? These are all questions that may go through our minds. We wonder how could I tell them about my abortion, my drug abusing teen, my affair, my alcoholic spouse, my father in prison–what will they say?

These feelings of shame can be further magnified in the community of believers. We look at those around us in the chairs or pews in our churches and they look as if their lives are perfect. We wonder how could they ever relate to what we are going through? The feelings of “I don’t belong” scream in our heads and rip apart our hearts. We need each other. We need someone to talk to. But who is safe?  Who will even want to be around us? We feel like the lepers in the Bible– isolated and surely to be ostracized.

Again I ask, can you relate?

Loneliness is a problem in all of society. The rich, the poor, and in each and every race. We all need Jesus and we all need the community of others to support us throughout life.

As believers we want to think that we can find that community, that family, in our churches. But that is not always the case. It seems that our churches are often places filled with plastic smiles and rote replies where many hearts are dying of loneliness.

So what is the answer, how do we find a better way? How do we find the connection we so desperately need? Well, the first and most important answer is to seek the Lord in prayer. I know that I have prayed at different times in my life for the Lord to provide me with community, safe-sisters, and He has in amazing and unexpected ways. I have found that He knows exactly what my heart needs.

Many deep safe friendships take years to form, but with God, He can develop depth of years in a few months. He wants us to have heart-to-heart friendships. Friendships filled with love, sharing and accountability. It is in the sharing of our hurts, our struggles, our pain, our missteps, and in our freedom to confess the reality of what life is really like, that we find community. Community is what we need to help us lift our load.

Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Carry each others burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” The Benson Commentary explains that this verse is telling us to “sympathize with and assist each other in all our weaknesses, grievances, trials.” Matthew Henry’s Concise commentary says that “The better we know our own hearts and way, the less we shall despise others and the more be disposed to help them under infirmities and afflictions.” And Barnes Notes on the Bible  explains that we are to “bear with each other; help each other in the divine life. The sense is that every man has special temptations and easily besetting sins, which constitute a heavy burden. We should aid each other in regard to these, and help one another to overcome them.”

The law of Christ is all about loving one another and love is the antidote to loneliness. Christ-like love. When we read the Word of God we see that Jesus mostly condemned the pious, proud, self-reliant people and befriended the suffering and the sinners.

I am so blessed to be a part of a church that is full of love and honesty regarding struggles, but I know that is not the norm. And it makes me incredibly sad to see so many going through life lonely and isolated because there is no place for honest sharing and confession.

We need to be the change-agents. We need to open our hearts, confess our struggles, and welcome the neediness of others. This can start with just acknowledging the emotions of another or a struggle heard in prayer. it can be followed up with a caring phone call. Or asking one to join you for coffee or for a Bible study or a book study. It takes being aware, and a willingness to be open and available. Reaching out involves risk but when connection occurs it brings great blessing. It’s helpful to remember that people have varying levels of comfort with depth of sharing, so we have to move forward carefully.

We all need acceptance and belonging in our lives and my post will delve into that topic next week. I hope that you will join me again.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Loneliness

  1. I think you are right in that our struggle to overcome loneliness begins with a relationship with the Lord. Until that is right then I’m not sure that we can even form proper human relationships. We have to find our completeness in Him first and then we are able to give ourselves away to others without trying to demand that they meet needs that only God can meet. Thanks for your post!

    Like

  2. loneliness is not only caused by shame at times, it brings its own shame – we feel ashamed we don’t have a strong community or that we don’t feel God is enough of an companion. good for you for broaching this painful topic. it’s one i hold dear and wish to erradicate with doing hospitality, for heaven’s sake. I’ve invited out of loneliness and God multiplied.

    Like

    1. Thank you for sharing your insight. You are so right loneliness does bring it’s own shame! We need to remember God is faithful in granting us the hope of His loving presence…always. I am so glad that you stopped by. Sweet blessings to you.

      Like

  3. You are so correct, we need to be aware of the loneliness and suffering of those around us. And we need a willing heart to minister to them. We all go through struggles in life and sometimes we’re the ones who need to be ministered to as well. Praying that we will all listen when God speaks and see the hurt of the ones He puts in our lives. God bless!

    Like

    1. Thank you for stopping by. I apologize that this responee to your comment is so late in coming. My mom has needed some extra care these past few weeks and I have neglected responding to comments. What a beautiful prayer to remember to talk with the Lord about. We get so busy and distracted, we do need His nudging to help us accomplish His will. Sweet blessings to you!

      Like

  4. Hi Cheryl, I’ve been wanting to visit your site since you visited mine a couple of weeks ago! I appreciate your thoughts on loneliness. I’ve experienced it too in certain seasons. Moving toward vulnerability, openness, and sharing ARE the answers. The very things we might fear. With God, these things are possible! Blessings as you write more on this…

    Like

    1. I am so glad that you visited. I apologize for the lateness of this response, my mom has needed some extra care recently and I have neglected responding to comments. It is through the things we fear the most that the Lord matures us in our faith. Yes, all things are possible through Him as He works in our hearts. Thank you for reminding us of His boundless power and wisdom at work even in our fears. Sweet blessings to you!

      Like

  5. Change-agents- I’ve not heard that term before, but I LOVE it! Loneliness effects everyone at one point or another. God is our closest friend! Closer than a brother. I love that I can look to Him for friendship and comfort during times of loneliness. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you for stopping by. I am actually not sure where I first heard the term “change -agent”, but it fits, when we yield to the Lord’s works in us we are agents of change in this world. Yes, I love it too that He is my friend, always present and available to comfort my hurting heart when I am lonely! I apologize that this reply is so late, my mom has needed some extra care these past few weeks. Sweet Blessings to you!

      Like

  6. Cheryl,
    Your thoughts and encouragement on loneliness are powerful and on-point. Shame does perpetuate loneliness and loneliness brings on more shame. It really is a vicious cycle. It also makes us hide more and reach out less which again creates a vicious cycle. We need each other and we need to step out in faith, trusting God to heal us and our lives!
    Thank you so much for joining me at #MomentsofHope! ♥
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    Like

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate you stopping by. I apologize for the lateness of this reply, my mom has needed some extra care the past few weeks. Sweet Blessings to you!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s