There’s no two ways around it, loneliness is a difficult feeling to work through. When you crave companionship and there is no one there for you, life can feel very unfair and hurtful. Loneliness is a strange emotion because you can feel it even when you are with a group of people. Have you ever been with a group of people and they are all talking and you seem to be on the sideline with nothing to say and no one saying anything to you? The old saying, “you can be lonely in a crowd,” is true. Jesus faced loneliness numerous times in His ministry. The forty days in the wilderness when He was fasting and praying must have taken it’s emotional toll on Him. And of course at the cross He felt totally abandoned by the Father and His own followers.
Before we look at a few ways we can deal with loneliness it is good to remember that there is a difference between loneliness and solitude. There are times in our lives (that’s you mothers with young children) when we all need to be alone and have time for ourselves. The difference, I think, is that when we seek those times of solitude we are happy in the decision, but we experience loneliness when we are unhappy being alone. There are times as well when loneliness is something to be endured because there is no way around it. A prisoner who misses their family, or a member of the military who is on deployment are a couple of examples of these imposed conditions that leads to loneliness.
We need to remember that everyone feels loneliness at times. Some of us just experience it more often that others, but we all experience it. If you really feel loneliness closing in, call someone. This may sound odd, but even if it’s just your parents or a sibling, that contact can make all the difference. When my father was alive we talked every single day, and I looked forward to his calls because there was a brief connection in that call with someone I cared about deeply. I have that same emotional rush when I am able to speak with my son and daughter who live a long ways away from me. No matter how lonely I might feel when I hear their voices on the other end of the phone, my day is made.
Become involved in activities that motivate you. Find things that you would like to learn about or do. Don’t go necessarily expecting to make friends, instead just go for the learning experience and see where things lead. People who study loneliness promote this idea because you find in these activities people who have the same interests as you and thus have a much better chance to find friends.
It’s important to keep in mind many people already have a circle of friends so even if you attend activities where you can meet people it may not be easy to make new friendships. However, there are a few tips to help make that easier. Make the first contact with people. Introduce yourself, but don’t impose yourself on them. It can be a long process to make friends in a situation where you only see people once a week, so don’t get discouraged.
Don’t be a nitpicker or always finding fault with people. No one wants to be friends with someone who always sees the bad things in people. People who are critical all the time soon find the phone doesn’t ring as often as it use to. Don’t argue over trivial matters that do nothing but put a strain on the relationship. We don’t have to be right all the time. People are drawn to kind and compassionate people who are friendly, but don’t impose themselves constantly on others time.
Most importantly to me as a Christian is to pray about loneliness. God understands what you are going through and sympathizes with you. He wants to help. If you are so inclined, find a church that can meet your needs for friendship. Many churches today have activities and classes for people of every age where you can meet new friends in a safe (hopefully) environment. Remember we may be alone in regards to our personal relationships, but we are never alone. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, and God is ever present. We are children of the Kingdom of God, and have a place in His Kingdom. Loneliness can be overcome with service. It is said that the mission fields of the world depend on a constant flow of men and women who find their fulfillment and joy in service to others. Without these people the mission programs would collapse. Many Christians have found friendship, fulfillment and a rich calling in pouring out their compassion for others. Loneliness doesn’t have to be a stumbling block in life, it can be an opening to a richer and wonderful life where new friendships and relationships are built.
Just a quick note; if you are interested in purchasing Ruth’s CD Times Like This, just 50 left. The price is $15 and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send the CD out to you and you can send Ruth a check. I’ll give you the address when you order. This is the only Christian CD Ruth has recorded, but there should be a new one out next summer. Thanks for your support of Ruth’s ministry.