Loneliness is a quiet monster: you can’t run from it, you can’t hide from it; you can’t escape from it, like the black of night it’s always there. That’s how I felt at one point in my life. But loneliness can be overcome. Loneliness is painful and very private; it’s hard to talk about, but it must be addressed and brought into perspective. I experienced loneliness from a young age. It may be hard to look back into our childhood, but the truth is, in some aspects, we carry that pain with us. We often experience that same childhood pain in our adult life. I remember specifically how lonely I was as a child. I lived in a neighborhood where there were no children my own age to play with. So, I leaned to be alone. Being content with being alone, is a learned state of mind. It wasn’t easy but I made scenarios where I could pretend I had a friend to play with. I soon learned how to occupy my young, curious mind all by myself.
Finally, I thought my prayers had been answered when a boy my age moved right next door. I will call him Mark. Mark and I played football and baseball in the back yard; we did everything together; even went to church together and, yes, got into trouble together, but we never damaged property or hurt anyone.
One awful day Mark gave me the bad news; Mark and his family were moving away. I can remember watching them drive away. The loneliness and sadness of that reality washed over me like a tidal wave. I stood and cried as their car sped down our street and out of the housing edition. I never saw Mark again and I often wondered what happened to him.
As I matured into middle school and high school, the loneliness continued and on many occasions I sat alone, on a milk crate, outside my door, staring into space feeling sad and depressed. I was self-conscious, shy, and embarrassed about my physical appearance. That devastating combination culminated in the further development of being self-sufficient: the false feeling that I didn’t need anyone. I had no meaningful relationships with girls in high school; although, I wanted to. I began to dream of that perfect girl who would come along and make everything right. But that never happened. I believe that unreal fantasies such as meeting that perfect person added to my loneliness, and hindered my future relationships, because no one can meet such an unattainable status of being perfect, except Jesus, of course.
History often repeats itself and after twenty-three years of being married I once again found myself alone. At first there was so much I had to relearn, I didn’t think about being alone, but as the years progressed it became a very real reality. One thing I did have was my new found faith in Christ to hold onto. And I held on for dear life. I soon realized there is no better friend than the Lord Jesus. And I began to fill my alone time reading his word. I got involved in church activities, continued my education, and prayed a great deal. Out of the sadness and loneliness I began to write about my feelings and found that I really enjoyed writing. You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy doing it, so I continued writing down my feelings and that process helped in my healing.
I am sure there are many folks who are single for different reasons who are lonely. But one thing I have discovered is that getting involved with the wrong person, because you are lonely, is not the way to deal with being alone. Such a poor decision can make your loneliness even greater–becoming trapped in a hurtful situation.
So what do the lonely hearted do when the pain of being alone overwhelms them? I believe the first thing a person needs to do is to admit to their self and to someone they trust that they are lonely. It’s not a sin to be lonely and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Jesus must have been the loneliest person who has ever lived; there has never been anyone like him, before, then, or now. Abandoned by family, friends, and his beloved Father Jesus had a mission to accomplish that he had to face completely alone, no one could walk the road to Calvary for Him, or with him. Because Jesus lives we can live in peace and tranquility no matter what our status is.
The great Apostle Paul experienced excruciating loneliness: beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, thrown in prison, and murdered. What did he learn through those experiences? While in prison, Paul wrote to the Philippian church these words, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11 NKJV). We can be content in any situation, including loneliness, when we trust in Christ.
In order to triumph over loneliness, you can never give into it allowing feelings of sadness to take charge of your life. You must fight. There have been moments when sitting all alone in a large two-story farmhouse that was once filled with children’s laughter, but now is deafly quiet, that I have felt like giving up. That’s when I cling to my faith, begin to read the Bible and pray fervently for Jesus to make his presence known. You may go through some hard times, but God is always going to touch your heart and give you a renewed energy to continue serving him. That’s really what life is all about. We are born alone and we die alone. What’s important in life, even in our loneliness, is being a light to others who struggle in the area’s where we struggled. You have not gone through hardship and pain for no reason; God will use you to help others in those areas.
It is hard for a proud and independent man to admit how lonely he’s been at times, but I hope these words will help those who are experiencing the pain of being alone to put it behind them and enjoy the abundant life Christ died to give you. I don’t know how people deal with life’s problems without faith in Christ and a relationship with him. But through Christ I can do all things, because my inner strength comes directly from his Holy Spirit living in me.
God all-mighty has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. He will lead you into every battle you face, and you will find victory, “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5). Let me ask you the same question the Apostle Paul asked in the Book of Romans, “If God is for you, who can be against you?” (cf. Romans 8:31).
Here are some actions that I have taken to help me overcome feelings of being alone. Be on the lookout (BOLO) for boredom. Boredom can fuel feelings of loneliness. When you find yourself feeling bored, get up and do something. Find some hobbies, do crossword puzzles, read, exercise, or go for a walk. Sitting around feeling sorry for your self will never accomplish anything, but only make matters worse.
Get involved with church activities, attend singles events, but don’t put unrealistic expectations about them. Early in my singleness I met a young woman I was convinced was the one for me. But as time went on I realized she wasn’t interested in me in that way and that realization left me even lonelier and more hurt. Use singles events as an opportunity to fellowship with others–not an answer to all your problems. Avoid unreal expectations of yourself and others.
The greatest tool in the battle against loneliness, or any battle, is Christ. You must get your relationship with him in order. Accepting Jesus as lord and savior assures you of his never ending love for you and his ever present presence. Amen! To get right with God just confess your sins, repent of your sins, and give Jesus permission to be the Lord of your life. The enemy of your soul, the devil, will use loneliness to discourage, create doubt about God’s goodness, and hinder your witness for Christ. Don’t let him win, find joy and contentment in your love for Jesus and his love for you. When this life is over, the only relationship that really matters is your relationship with Jesus Christ.
May the love of God fill your heart with peace and joy,