Feeling lonely is a common human condition. The misconceptions surrounding its source and how to overcome it are just as common. If not kept in check, feelings of loneliness can easily pull us under like being in quicksand. They can also lead to the destruction of precious relationships. So here are some things to remember when you feel lonely.
Loneliness verses being alone
Everybody needs some alone time where no one is placing demands on them. Even Jesus needed time alone to refresh, recharge, to think, and to pray.
Being alone is a physical state. On the other hand, Loneliness is a feeling. Psychology Today puts it this way:
“Someone can be alone but not lonely and someone can feel lonely even when surrounded by people.” (1)
Many individuals think that if they could just find the right friend they wouldn’t feel lonely. Others are looking for the right spouse. Yet others think if they just had the right children they would not feel lonely. These are all misconceptions. They are flat out lies.
Truth be told, many married couples are incredibly lonely. Many people who have a large following on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, still feel lonely. Many parents feel lonely. Why is that?
Why do people feel lonely?
We were created for community, fellowship, and a sense of connectedness. In God’s original plan, that need was filled by being connected to our Creator. When sin entered the world, a separation occurred between God and people. Ever since then, we have been trying to fill that need with something other than God.
It’s not that we don’t need people. We do. But they can’t be our primary focus. We run into problems when we expect that others will rescue us from loneliness. They can’t.
“External things (or people) don’t fix internal problems.” (2) (emphasis added)
When you don’t control feelings of loneliness
Destruction of relationships
Lonely spouses often try to make their partners fill all of their needs for companionship. Lonely singles become jealous when their friends spend time with someone else. Lonely parents expect their teen and adult children to spend unrealistic amounts of time with them.
These expectations always backfire at some point.
We have choices.
- Obsess about our feelings and feel miserable.
- Demand that others save us from our loneliness, which is impossible.
- Or, we can let our loneliness drive us to the only one who can fill that void.
The last choice is where comfort and healing begins.
“I don’t want to oversimplify our connection with the Creator of the universe, but the vine Jesus talks about in John 15:4 is similar to a light switch or a Wi-Fi connection–always there, but of no benefit to us until we connect to it. ” (3)
Acceptance of lies and negativity
“There is no question that people with loneliness have a tendency to become fixated on negative social information.. . No one cares about me. . I’ll never be good for anyone. . . I guess God wants me to be single the rest of my life. ” (4)
Another lie is that no one understands how I feel. The truth is that everyone experiences loneliness from time to time. And most assuredly, God understands.
Poor physical and emotional health
“ loneliness can lead to a higher risk for dying of heart disease, weaker immune systems, and consuming less healthy foods, like vegetables. Loneliness can also hurt your sleep patterns, increase your risk for developing dementia later in life, and may even contribute to early death.” (5)
Bible verses for loneliness
When we know God deeply and personally, feelings of loneliness will come and go. When we confront those feelings with the truth, they are not so unbearable. The key is not to let our thoughts take us captive. We must focus on someone other than ourselves if we hope to get past loneliness.
Focus on God’s promises
Psalm 27:10- Even if our mother or father abandons us, the Lord will not.
Isaiah 41:10- Don’t be afraid, for God is with you; He will strengthen you and help you.
Psalm 147:3- God will heal our broken hearts.
I Samuel 12:22- God will not leave His people. When we have a relationship with God through Jesus, we are NEVER alone.
Isaiah 43:2- When life is hard, God will walk with us in those difficult times. He does not expect us to do it alone.
There are many more promises to address when we feel alone and lonely.
Focus on others
Proverbs 18:24- “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.” (KJV). Most everyone wants friends but the truth is that sometimes we have to make the first move. Does that mean making a nuisance of yourself trying to force a friendship? No. Read on.
One of the sources of loneliness is that we focus too much on ourselves. These verses address that problem when it says,
“Let each of you look not only to his own interest but also to the interest of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.” Philippians 2:4-7
Serving and helping others is a natural way to create friendships. When you become part of a group where two or more can serve together, this common ground often leads to lasting relationships. Many churches have service projects as part of their men’s or women’s ministries.
6 things to remember when you feel lonely
- Loneliness is a feeling, not a fact
- Being alone is not the source of your loneliness
- “Feelings and faith are not always compatible.” (6)
- Focus your mind on someone other than yourself
- It’s not the number of people in your life that matters, but the quality of those relationships
- Only an authentic relationship with God will calm your loneliness
If you found this article meaningful, you may want to read
- “Feeling Joyful Even When Single”
- “Conquering Loneliness In A Happily-Ever-AFter Culture”
- “Who Am I After Divorce“
- (1) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-emotion/202004/being-alone-vs-being-lonely
- (2, 4) https://healingfromgod.com/help-with-your-loneliness/
- (3) https://www.proverbs31.org/read/devotions/full-post/2016/09/07/feeling-alone-and-disconnected
- (5) https://www.bustle.com/life/141491-5-reasons-you-feel-lonely-even-when-youre-not-alone-and-what-to-do-about
- (6) livingfiercelyloved.com/2018/06/god-i-am-lonely