Loneliness affects everyone to some extent. We are social creatures by design, made to live in community, and help carry one another’s burdens. When a difficult situation arises and we feel a sense of being without companionship, comfort or understanding, we are left feeling isolated and alone.
In December of 2013, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I always associated PTSD with war veterans, something those who faced combat situations experienced. I had no idea that it could also affect those who’ve survived extreme trauma or abuse. Within a year’s time, I went from being someone who thrived on the energy of those around me to someone who began to live in complete isolation.
Solitude isn’t always a bad thing. It can be a refreshing experience that is rejuvenating and enjoyable. It’s healthy to be alone sometimes. In fact, in scripture we see multiple instances where Jesus withdrew to rest and pray:
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16).”
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place (Mark 6:31-32).”
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35).”
But, there is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Solitude, as described above, is a voluntary withdrawal from people. Loneliness, on the other hand, is the want of intimacy.
In other words, no one chooses to be lonely. Loneliness feels like isolation forced upon you. It’s like a dark cloud that looms over you and hangs on despite your best efforts to force it off. If you’ve experienced loneliness like I felt in this season of life, I know you can attest to how painful and draining it can be.
David Legge said this:
“You could be surrounded with all the friends, all the family, all the acquaintances in the world and still be the loneliest soul in existence.”
I was not alone, but I was most certainly lonely. There were people in my life that attempted to connect with me, but it didn’t feel like they could truly relate.
In the end, the few that I opened up to slowly started to distance themselves from my life. I blamed myself, wondering what I did or said to push them away. I started to question my own sense of worthiness. I found myself looking everywhere except to God for comfort and rest. As a result, the “loneliness cloud” grew violent in strength.
The problem with looking to the world for answers, or entering into a relationship with someone, expecting them to make you happy, is that you will always be let down eventually. That’s because only God was meant to fill the void in our heart.
Can you identify with feelings of loneliness?
Have you ever been surrounded by friends, family, or coworkers and yet felt completely alone?
Whether your loneliness is due to a loss, broken relationship, or personal pattern of isolating, I want you to know that God cares for you, and can identify with your sorrow and grief! The bible tells us this:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).”
“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… (Isaiah 53:3)”
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19).”
God’s desire is to draw you into relationship with Himself and others:
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion… (Isaiah 30:19)”
“Come near to God and he will come near to you… (James 4:8)”
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).”
We’ve all experienced the sense of being without sympathy or support within our relationships, especially in troublesome situations. Don’t fall into the enemy’s trap of living in isolation. The bible teaches that at the deepest level, loneliness is worked out in Godly relationships. Open up to God and confess to Him your struggles. He may be using a season of loneliness in your life to get your attention and prompt you to draw near to Himself and other believers. It’s only then that you will begin to trust, start to heal, and utilize the support he promises to bring.