Loneliness happens often when we’re surrounded by good people. These purposeful steps can help us in the mist of loneliness.
For much of my adult life, I’ve struggled with loneliness. I’m surrounded by people – good people. But often I stand in a crowded room and feel unseen, and alone. I don’t have a fool-proof cure for loneliness but I can share what God has been teaching me.
Alone in a Crowded Room
A mom leaves an event full of lovely women, laughter and fun only to stumble through the door at home in tears.
This was me several times last week.
As an introvert, large social events and groups tend to be a challenge. I’m much more comfortable with just one or two people. In groups, I tend to sit back and listen instead of jumping into the conversation. As a result, unless someone asks me a direct question, I may not speak at all. Often, I go home feeling like I had things to say and regrets over words unspoken.
This regret becomes frustration. That frustration opens old wounds. I don’t feel heard. Or seen.
Did it even matter I was there at all?
Familiar feelings of loneliness rise; powerful and painfully real.
Still, other times, these feelings of loneliness rise up out of nowhere, uninvited, and without cause.
Feelings like these aren’t based on truth. They are a result of me believing a terrible internal lie; that I wasn’t wanted or needed.
The truth is, I was invited to the event I spoke of earlier. My presence was welcomed and wanted. My words and thoughts would have been welcomed as well. No one said or did anything unkind or cold to me. Loneliness doesn’t always show up when it makes sense. Often times, the feelings are real, but they don’t make sense at all.Loneliness doesn't always show up when it makes sense. Often times, the feelings are real, but they don't make sense at all. #thisgratefulmama #loneliness #emotions Click To Tweet
Why do I still feel lonely?
Usually it isn’t others who make me feel lonely.
But that doesn’t change the overwhelming way feelings of loneliness hurt. From experience, I’ve learned that unchecked feelings of loneliness can be paralyzing. Focusing on loneliness robs my days of joy and causes me to pull back from relationships, further perpetuating the problem.Focusing on loneliness robs my days of joy and causes me to pull back from relationships, further perpetuating the problem. #thisgratefulmama #loneliness #isolation Click To Tweet
When loneliness surfaces, it is imperative that I take purposeful steps to battle against it. As I said before, I am still struggling (even as I write this today) with loneliness and perceived rejection.
God has been faithfully showing me ways to address loneliness. I’m excited to share them with you, so we can learn and practice together.
Purposeful Steps When Struggling With Loneliness
A good friend is a beautiful thing. But I’m learning no friendship can rid me of loneliness. When I’m lonely, what I need most is more of God. There’s a hole, a void, that only He can fill. Before I seek comfort elsewhere, I need to seek His presence. Even when He feels distant.
Whether I ‘feel’ His presence or not, I need to press into Him by reading His Word and praying.
When I feel lonely, the enemy’s lies seem like truth. I begin to question my worth. Then I start suppressing God’s truth about who God says I am. When this happens, I need to tell God my thoughts, even though they go against what He says.
God already knows our heart. He can take hearing whatever you have to say to Him.
‘God I know You made me without mistake. I know I am fully loved and fully known by You. Yet, right now I feel inadequate, unloved, unworthy and rejected. I feel so alone and unseen by others. Help me to see myself and this circumstance as you do. Will you help me believe it and walk in truth?’
Often, pouring out feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and self-loathing at God’s feet brings peace. It is hard to be in God’s presence and believe lies. Being with Him opens our eyes to truth and helps our souls rest in His comforting arms.It is hard to be in God's presence and believe lies. Being with Him opens our eyes to truth and helps our souls rest in His comforting arms. #thisgratefulmama #God #faith #comfort Click To Tweet
In the midst of loneliness, the focus is on me. I desperately need to worship God.
Worship turns my focus outward and upward.
He is still God, and He is good – regardless of any emotion or circumstance I may be in. When I remember God’s character – His goodness, faithfulness and kindness – and how He has revealed Himself to me, it becomes hard to feel alone.
Kari Jobe’s ‘I Am Not Alone‘ has helped me worship this week. What comfort there is in recalling that God never leaves me and always goes before me!
See A Friend
Isn’t it strange that when struggling with loneliness, I tend to isolate myself? Do you do this too?
Isolating ourselves happens when we believe and accept the lie that no one cares if we are there or not. In all honesty, even after spending time with God, I sometimes still feel lonely and disconnected. Isolation only makes things worse.
While a friend can’t fill the void only God can fill, they can come alongside and encourage us.
We all need good, godly friends.
I am grateful to have several women in my life with whom I can share hard things. One friend, in particular comes to mind; she lifts me up, encourages me, and points me to Jesus. We don’t see each other that often, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed between us. We do spend time catching up on daily life, but we always spend time talking about what is on our hearts.
Time spent with a good friend lifts the soul.
God gave us the gift of fellowship so we can be mutually encouraged by one another. But we need to be IN fellowship with others to experience it.God gave us the gift of fellowship so we can be mutually encouraged by one another. But we need to be IN fellowship with others to experience it. #thisgratefulmama #fellowship #faith #friends Click To Tweet
Last week, after a rough morning wrestling with loneliness emotions, I called that friend. We met at a park with the kids. Our kids played. We took a walk and talked. I shared my heart while she listened. Then she spoke truth and kindness into hurting places. I left feeling recharged, refreshed and so very grateful. Time spent with her is life-giving. Friends like this are a priceless gift.
As an introvert, I know I need more one-on-one time with good friends. This time has to be built into my life on a regular basis because life is BUSY.
If it’s hard for you too, we can work on this one together.
Pick a friend. Schedule time. Show up.
BE A Friend
Sometimes we long for deeper friendships, but we haven’t made it our mission to just go out and BE a friend.
Friendship is a two-way street; if we want people to be there for us, we need to be there for them! Cultivating deep relationships takes time and purposeful effort.
We need to intentionally invest in our friendships.
Check in with your friend about ‘that thing’ they mentioned last time you talked. You know, that appointment, interview, struggle, celebration or milestone.
Take notice when a friend is unusually quiet and ask how they are doing. Then be prepared to make time to listen to how they’re really doing.
Often, I feel the most lonely when I’m busy.
We all have busy seasons, and there’s grace for our inability to invest time and energy for a time.
Life happens. When we have a new baby, or start a new job, or are caring for a family member, we may not have much bandwidth for friends. That’s ok, and it happens to all of us. For a season.
However, sometimes, we allow good things to make us so busy, we have no margin for people. When this happens, we need to make some adjustments to maintain valuable friendships.
Examine your schedule and priorities to be sure you’ve left room for people. Especially if you’re feeling lonely.
Let people know you care. Be available to others. Being connected to others in daily life opens the door to have conversations about what is on your heart.
Start with one person. Who will it be?
The Gift of Loneliness, Focus on the Family
Satan Wants You To Be A Lonely Mom, Christ-Centered Mama
Are You Lonely? Billy Graham Association