Lies of loneliness
Loneliness is such a powerfully debilitating feeling! It can suck the life right out of you! It is something that I have struggled with off and on for years, but it is not something that I like to talk about. However, I believe that it is a feeling that is shared by many people and in order to eradicate the lies that loneliness heaps on us it must be revealed. When exposed to the Light, darkness can no longer exist.
I have been divorced for over 20 years and have not even been on a date in about 8 years. I raised my daughter on my own and now I am an empty nester. I spend a lot of time by myself. I long for a husband to share my life with. But I am very aware that being on your own is not the same as being alone and is not a requirement for being lonely. I know there are married people who also struggle with feelings of loneliness. I think it plagues all of us at one time or another. I have many people who love me. In spite of that, I often feel the most alone when I am at a church event surrounded by people who love me. This is one of the many lies of loneliness—“I am alone”, “Nobody cares”, “I have no friends”, “Nobody loves me”, “I am not worthy to be loved so I deserve to be alone”, “Nobody understands me”, and the list goes on. The lies then start to extend to others as loneliness breeds offence. It becomes a downward spiral very quickly and I can find myself weighed down by self-pity, anger and bitterness.
We have very real enemies that want us to believe the lies. Our enemies are our own pride, the misguided and inaccurate norms and beliefs of a fallen world, and Satan who is the father of lies. I don’t like to give him too much airplay though; most often, he doesn’t need to do anything, we allow the other two enemies to do enough damage on their own. But no matter how strong these feelings of loneliness, self-pity, anger and bitterness might be, we must remember that they are only feelings; they cannot be trusted. They are NOT truth! Jesus is Truth! He has given us VICTORY! We negate what Jesus did for us on the cross when we accept these lies and walk in defeat. His Truth sets us free!
The Truth is:
· You will never be alone; God will never leave you or abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 27:10)
· You are loved beyond measure; God created you uniquely for a plan that He designed specifically for you (Ephesians 3:17-19, Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10)
· You are royalty, God’s special possession, chosen by Him; your value and your worth come from being a son or daughter of the King, not from anything else (1 Peter 2:9)
· God cares about you and understands you completely (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 139:1-4)
The number one thing that will combat loneliness is the truth of God’s Word! Meditating on His Word and conversing with Him in prayer always shifts my inward focus to a heavenly perspective. However, on my journey, there are a few other things that God has shown me that I need to remember when that fickle feeling of loneliness rears its ugly head. I have found that I need to:
1. Re-examine my definition of ‘friend’
When the lie that I have no friends enters my head, I need to step back and remember what ‘friend’ really means. A friend, according to dictionary.com, is someone attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. The term friend is not predicated by if or how often the person checks in on me, saves me a seat, takes a photo with me at the photo wall, or includes me in conversation and dance parties. A friend is someone I care about and who cares about me—whether it has been minutes since we last spoke or years. So, when I am being attacked by this lie, I think of several people that I care about and who I know have cared about me in the past—depending on my depth of self-pity and how much I have chosen to believe this lie, I may not think they care about me at the moment—and I ask myself how they might feel if I told them I had no friends. It is very humbling to think that it might hurt their feelings to know that I am not considering them a friend.
2. Remember the new family that I have been adopted into
When we become followers of Jesus Christ we are adopted into His family (Romans 8:14-16). All other followers of Jesus become our brothers and sisters; we become united in Christ. Not only do we have family in our home church, we have family all around the world that love us and care about us. We can go anywhere in the world and be embraced in our family of believers!
3. Accept that ministry can be lonely
As a family of believers, it is up to us to make it easy for others to say ‘yes’ to Jesus. That is what church is all about. The main purpose of church, whether on Sunday or at an event, is not for us to hang out with our closest church family (aka friends); it is to connect with new people and show them the love of Jesus. We are each called to the same purpose, making disciples of Jesus, but we each have a very unique plan to fulfill this purpose. Our plan will not look the same as our best friend’s plan. Time can become limited. It is important to be intentional to schedule in one-on-one or small group time with those closest to us. We must embrace the quality of the time that we spend together and accept that the quantity will fluctuate.
4. Realize that sometimes God needs to isolate me to get my attention
Anything that we put ahead of God becomes an idol. People can easily become idols. Occasionally we will go through seasons where we are distanced from those closest to us. I believe God will allow and even orchestrate these periods of isolation to force us to look to Him. He may have to remove distractions from our lives so that we can hear Him clearly. He wants us to rely on Him, not on other people. God wants to protect our healthy relationships from becoming idolatry, and possibly remove any unhealthy ones. Why? Because He loves us so much! Trust Him and ask Him to reveal to you what you need to hear. If you are in a season that feels like isolation, look at it as a time of learning and an opportunity to get to know Jesus more intimately, not as a time of punishment or abandonment. Be thankful that God loves you so much and be open to receive all that He wants to show you!
5. Recognize others who might be feeling the same way
God always uses our struggles and our pain to help others. When we are feeling lonely, isolated and alone, we can be sure that there are others that are feeling the same way. We need to put on new lenses that have an outward focus to see those that are hurting in the same way that we are. The Bible tells us that God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles SO THAT we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When we are too inward focused, we are not sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We need to be intentional to put aside our own feelings; this can be done by focusing on others. When we do this, Holy Spirit will bring people into our path that are having the same feelings of loneliness. And one of the numerous miraculous ways that God works is to comfort and heal us even as we are pouring out to others.
I wish I could tell you that once you do these things, there is never a recurrence and you will never feel lonely again. Although I can’t tell you that, I can say that focusing on God’s Word and putting the above points into practice has helped me to recognize these lies and change my perspective much quicker. This feeling of loneliness may continue to cycle, but I am confident that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6), with or without a husband by my side. And I know He will do the same for you too!
Lots of love,