Loneliness waits for no season, but there are things we can do to help ourselves.
Published on: 11-28-2022
While the holiday season brings with it reunions of family and friends, it’s also a time of great difficulty for many people. Some find themselves far from home and unable to travel, or circumstances don’t allow for celebrations with others. But even within a crowd of loved ones, it is possible to feel very much alone. What can be done when those feelings of loneliness seem beyond our control?
First, recognize that loneliness is a feeling. It’s a feeling that indicates a person is not connecting with others as much as they might like to. Loneliness is a symptom of disconnectedness. And prolonged disconnectedness is not good for people. Still, loneliness is a common experience that most people experience at times in life. It’s the flip side of being an independent individual that sometimes stands alone.
But we must understand a very important fact: loneliness and aloneness are not the same things. One can surely feel lonely when alone, but one can also feel lonely among people, including friends and family. Loneliness is the feeling a person has when their need for connection isn’t fulfilled. And the feeling of disconnection is indeed painful.
It’s important to be able to have alone time without feeling lonely—to spend hours or a few days alone without desperately craving connection. In life there will be such moments and circumstances of being away from the people who matter most. But if these times are prolonged or involuntary, it’s only natural for loneliness to creep in.
Loneliness is also a subjective experience. If a person feels lonely, then that feeling is true. It does not matter what others think or say about the situation. And for many, the worst kind of loneliness may be emotional disconnection—the feeling that others do not see, acknowledge, understand, and appreciate what’s inside you.
What Does the Bible Say?
Does Jesus care about our moments of loneliness? Absolutely. Jesus knows what loneliness is. He understands our feelings and has compassion for us. Hanging on the cross in midair between heaven and earth, awaiting death and abandoned by most of His friends and family, He cried out to God: “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, NIV). But we know He wasn’t alone.
Surrounding the cross were soldiers and spectators, but they were not there to comfort and connect with Christ. Rather, they ridiculed and harassed Him. Even with those He loved there with Him at the cross, Jesus still felt lonely. But He persevered. And in the end Christ conquered death, and He also conquered loneliness. He experienced extreme loneliness, thus He knows what it feels like and suffers with every lonely person.
Even though we may not feel it, we must remember that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39, NIV).
In your pain and suffering, go to Jesus and pray in the words and spirit of King David: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish” (Ps. 25:16, 17, NIV).
When loneliness comes, take it seriously. Acknowledge your feelings and seek out others who may respect and care for your feelings.
Admit the problem. There is no shame in being lonely. This doesn’t make a person a failure. Let the feeling of loneliness be a prompt to think and act in appropriate ways.
Consider the causes. Where is the loneliness coming from? Is there a lack of people to connect with, or is connecting emotionally with the people in our lives difficult? What fears and obstacles stand in the way of connecting with people? Are we seeking connection with the right kind of people—people who can see and appreciate who we are and what’s inside us?
Accept what cannot be changed. Life is full of changes and transitions, and moving forward entails leaving something behind. Leaving home, family, friends, colleagues, and classmates may create temporary feelings of loneliness. But appreciate the new opportunities for connection that are out there.
Alter what can be changed. It’s important to have at least one person in our lives that we can be open with. Seek true connection, not popularity or attention. Get involved with other people in something you are interested in or by volunteering for some cause you believe in.
Eat with people. We need to eat together. Inviting someone to your home or to go out to eat—this is often where relationships are formed and connections are built.
Consider getting a pet—if you’re in a position to do so. Caring for something other than yourself— feeding it, walking it, petting it, etc., especially with a dog, who seeks contact—may be a great solution. Keep in mind, however, that getting a pet is a long-term commitment and involves a lot of responsibility.
Get professional help. If you don’t know what to do proactively to improve the quality and quantity of meaningful relationships, then seek professional help. Talking with a physician, counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist to assess even possible issues with depression is extremely important.
Something Important to Remember
Even in the worst life experiences, we can trust that God will work with us for something good to transpire. Don’t let loneliness pacify you, but rather allow loneliness to drive action. The experience of loneliness can push you toward seeking a deeper connection with God—a real lived experience in connecting with God.
If you are experiencing loneliness, seek what you can change in your social life, but also your spiritual life. True connection is possible. If you seek it, you will find it. It’s what God wants for you.
A Special Prayer
You know what loneliness is. You know how I feel, and You look into my heart with understanding and compassion. You created me for connection with You and with other people. Show me what stands in my way of connecting deeper and truer with You and others. Show me what I may do, and give me the courage to do it. And while I am working to conquer my loneliness, make me a blessing to others who suffer from loneliness.
Learn more about loneliness and how to deal with it through these links: