Why do I feel so lonely? These words resonate in the hearts of not only singles but all Americans. 58% of all adults are considered lonely, and minorities are at an even higher risk, with 75% of Hispanics and 68% of African American adults responding as lonely. Mental health is impacted by our feelings of loneliness, and we all process that differently. It can depend on our temperament and the cultural environment in which we were raised. Still, what we choose to medicate or address loneliness is even more concerning. Here are some ways to have different perspectives on loneliness.
People don’t fix loneliness
“No one stood by me the first time I defended myself; all deserted me. … But the Lord stayed with me and gave me strength.”- 2 Timothy 4:16. We think people will fix our loneliness, but they won’t. No power on this earth will bring comfort beyond understanding (Philippians 4:6). When we seek people to fill our loneliness void, we are like the woman at the well whose thirst was never quenched until she encountered Jesus.
Loneliness is a reminder to draw near
That feeling of desperation, anxiety, emptiness and emotional exhaustion is not for nothing. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28. If we never had loneliness, then we would never feel when we are closer to God and complete. What we learn along the way in life is that things don’t ever fill this void. Houses, cars, pretty spaces, toys, technology, money, and even people. Through these experiences of temporary feelings, we can only come to value the wholeness found in accepting Christ.
“you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10. This is a phrase we at Table for One Ministries value profoundly and have seen resonate in the hearts of singles. As a single adult, it’s easier to feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually alone. It can even be a primary driver of reasons to be around people, places, and things to avoid being alone. But being alone is an asset, not a liability. When we see the light in our darkest moments is when we know what truly completes us.
Jesus embraced His loneliness
100% man and 100% God and sinless savior, Jesus often knew what it felt like to be lonely. He was isolated for 40 days, tempted in the desert with no human interaction. He did not sin in His loneliness. In Mark 1, Jesus often stayed outside towns in the “lonely” places, and it was there that He would often pray (Luke 5:16). In Matthew 15:34, Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” His loneliness on the cross made an atonement for the world’s sins. He sinlessly embraced loneliness for our ability to join Him in heaven for eternity.
You don’t have to be alone in your loneliness
Loneliness can have a purpose and a meaningful impact on your life and others if we allow it to. You were not made to be alone in the garden or in life, which doesn’t mean marriage “fixes” loneliness. We were made for community and to struggle alongside one another to be refined in the image of Jesus. You are never alone when you have Jesus in your life. Embrace aspects of your loneliness to draw near to the Lord, and seek wise counsel when your loneliness feelings are darker than moments and turn into a season. Maybe if we pray for purpose in our loneliness instead of praying it away, we will see God’s fullness in our lives to live on mission for Him.
See loneliness as a way to share God’s love
The statistics are clear, people are struggling with loneliness all around us. So how will we be the light that shines into the darkness to share the message of Jesus? 1 John 4 instructs us that for others to see God’s love, we have to be His love to others. That love is based on 1 Corinthians 13 and the product of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. As Christ’s followers, we must reach beyond our circle of friends, family, and neighbors to engage all the world with the love of Christ.