Loneliness plagues us all at some point, doesn’t it? Haven’t we all felt lonely even while standing in a crowd, feeling certain we don’t fit in or belong? Over the past few years, women from 18-80 have shared with me the ache of their loneliness.
I scrolled my Facebook feed one morning this summer and was greeted by smiling faces of a few friends at a party the night before. A party I wasn’t invited to.
I couldn’t help the tears even though crying made me feel like I was 12 all over again.
I knew I shouldn’t be so upset, but I can’t seem to shake this underlying belief that I just really don’t fit in anywhere. I also knew I was tired from the crazy amount of physical work from the move into our “new” 1890’s house and subsequent weeks of DIY remodeling.
I was lonely, longing for connection with friends. It hurts to not be invited, and I know I’m most susceptible to this kind of hurt.
I have learned that loneliness looks inward and to defeat it I need to look up and out.
These 6 things have become my loneliness busters:
1. Look Up.
I set the phone down and turned my thoughts to God. Rather than looking for hearts, thumbs ups or comments to feel connected, I sought connection with God first.
I brought my ache, and all my emotions to Him and took solace in His words that He will never leave or forsake His own. I took comfort that Jesus knows what it feels like to be forsaken and alone, with friends who couldn’t even stay awake with Him through His darkest hour.
This is the truth: When you feel lonely, you are never truly alone.
If you’re feeling lonely today, please start with Jesus. Let His Spirit speak this truth to you through His Word and in silence alone with Him.
2. Look Out.
I asked God to show me who needed an encouraging word. Who could I look out for? Who is going through a difficult and potentially isolating time right now? Looking out for others gets my eyes off myself and my loneliness.
Do you know someone caring for an ill loved one, someone grieving, someone who just moved to a new community? Even good changes (as was the case with our move) can feel isolating.
3. Act Out.
After looking to God and asking Him to show who around me might be feeling lonely, I sent text messages, e-mails, and even wrote a letter to everyone I could think of who could use a note to know they’re not alone (which in reality is everyone). Pouring love and concern into others was refreshing.
4. Expect No return.
But I’ve learned when reaching out to others, to expect nothing in return. Expecting someone to call or text back or return the favor is still truly about me. Expectations of return set the stage for disappointment and hurt when someone isn’t able to return your concern.
Sending messages of love and encouragement without expecting anything in return is truly gratifying and selfless.
5. Limit Tech and Turn it Off.
This is a continual process of monitoring and self-discipline for me. When feeling lonely, it’s easy to turn on the tech and post, tweet, share and like in hopes of filling the void and eliminating the ache. It’s a temporary fix and often only fuels the loneliness with unmet expectations.
6. Connect In Real Life.
Loneliness loses its grip when you connect with people face to face. That often means taking the risk to be vulnerable and real with someone. After connecting with God that lonely morning, my husband walked in and asked if I was ok.
Saying, “No, I’m not ok,” is one of the hardest things for me. But admitting hurt and letting others in, allows God to share His love through other people.
We need those times of connection and heart to heart with good friends and family. I’ve also found that pouring into those in my community who can’t give anything in return really gets my eyes off myself. It also opens the door for new friendships.
Volunteer at a local organization. Look the cashier in the eyes, ask how her day is going and mean it. Stop to talk to the greeter and learn what he did before taking up this retirement gig. Don’t rush off to the next thing to just get the list done, but strike up a conversation with people.
Chit-chat at the school bus stop with a new neighbor in just one week moved from “these bugs are awful” into borrowing of items and brainstorming ideas for her job search.
Jesus urged us to “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
I think that also means, See the people around you the way you wish to be seen.
Give of yourself without expecting anything in return, and loneliness will start to lose its grip.
I know I’m not alone in this. If you’re feeling lonely today, leave a comment or send me a message. I’d be honored to pray for you.
Please share – what helps you lose that lonely feeling?
*header photo credit Volkan Olmez on Unsplash.