Maybe everything I have to say here isn’t quite right; I don’t know if it ever is, but nonetheless, I have written down some thoughts on loneliness. I am not necessarily addressing clinical depression or anything like that, although I will say sometimes remembering these things have helped me in depression, but it is important to seek professional counseling if you think you may be depressed. That being said, here are some words on loneliness:
It is so easy to let loneliness consume everything.
And I’m not just talking about in singleness because loneliness, no matter what your relationship status, permeates every part of life.
Loneliness often blurs the accuracy of our vision—constantly saying that what we might see as good is maybe not so good as it seems. It lies to us about the faithfulness of our friends and family, about the reliability and love of those around us. It says we are not valuable and maybe this is how it will always be (as loneliness and depression often walk together).
Isolation is hell, and loneliness is consistent in its offering of such a place.
Loneliness makes intriguing sentiments and aesthetics, as various social media platforms often display, but it is certainly nothing to sit in. It is interesting to me that, when we steep ourselves in loneliness, we often find a lot of self-pity vying for our attention. And even the reaching out and being reached out to become a means for our own pride in the self-pity to pervert how things really are.
Loneliness is awful—and it is even more awful because it often twists us into becoming unbelievably self-obsessed.
I recently had a friend say to me, “I’m a little disappointed; I just found out the world doesn’t revolve around me.” And we laughed about it, but in all seriousness, isn’t this a lesson a lot of people seem to have not learned?
Loneliness, when healthily recognized and addressed, draws us closer into community and outside of ourselves. When it is addressed inappropriately, usually alone and without any objectivity or wise counsel, it subverts our perspective inward and intensifies the isolation, often leading to depression on that road. It becomes much easier to believe we are unwanted and alone when we try to handle everything on our own—because we were not created for individualism and realization of the full, independent self in isolation; we were created for community, in community, and by community. The beginning of time itself speaks to the revelatory necessity of community through the foundational relationship of the Trinity—Community from Eternity Past.
If God Himself is Community, who are we to believe that “I can do it Alone” should be our battle cry?
We are obsessed with independence and self-sufficiency, but isn’t there something about the crippling heights of loneliness plaguing our society that is screaming “THERE IS SOMETHING BETTER!”?
Most of the planning I have done for the future has been relative to my desire to be so, totally independent, I’ve forgotten where the place of independence and uniqueness lies—it is in community with Christ. For my dependence on Him makes me more of my full, fulfilled, true self.
Independence is defined as being “free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority,” which is the exact opposite of what we are told will fulfill and truly identify us biblically.
Utter dependence on God is critical to the furthering and maturation of our faith and our understanding of where our value, hope, and community lies. Roots in and interconnectedness to a community of the Body is part of the critical element of becoming more ourselves. Now, I’m not saying utter dependence on people is what you should be working toward—we walk hand-in-hand with people, knowing as a person, we are prone to falling short and letting others down, but the consequences of avoiding community for the potential interruption of our desired narrative by a misstep of the person we are walking alongside are detrimental to us in a way that is so perverted and damaging relative to every part of us.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT)
Two people can also help each other up again, and three people allow for one person to pull up each arm.
BUT WE HAVE TO TALK WHEN WE HAVE FALLEN.
WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT MISSTEP IS NOT CONDEMNATION AND THE END ALL BE ALL OF OUR IDENTITY.
We must learn to reach out. Not everyone knows when to say something or when to not, so say something to your church family if you are feeling lonely. If you can’t think of anyone, talk to your pastor, seek out a counselor—get plugged into community and be vulnerable.
Loneliness, much like shame (which makes sense, as loneliness tends to carry shame with it), has a lot more difficulty surviving when we talk about it and are vulnerable with how we are. Share your life with other people—share the worst things and the best things. The cord not easily broken continues to be woven tighter and tighter together the more honest and vulnerable we are with God and our brothers and sisters in Him. It is not shameful to experience loneliness—Jesus Himself screamed out in His feelings of loneliness on the cross when He asked God why He had forsaken Him. And even still, He was not left alone in that moment—for the veil still tore, and the stone was still rolled away, and He is even now seated at the right hand of the Father.
You are not alone, but if you feel like you are, as I often do too, tell someone because they have felt lonely before as well.
You are not alone, and I’m not alone either—we are never alone and never forgotten—never forsaken or unseen.
And when you feel like there is no stronghold or backup—look up—look behind you, beside you, and in front of you. For He has been walking with and all around you this whole time, and He has a pretty big family for you—a family that wants to be with and around you, supporting and speaking life over you.
We can become lonely when we look down—like I said, it quickly becomes an internalized experience—but take a second and think of relationships and people around you. Be thankful for them, and know that you are not alone, ever. Gratitude often breaks strongholds of isolation we thought would never go away. None of us walks alone, even in those darkest moments, we are seen, supported, and known—we serve a Good King alongside a lot of people who are every day being made into the image of the More Good of God as we all walk together, pulling one another up when loneliness and isolation attack—we do not fall because we can hear those around us saying we are not alone.
We can read the words of the Breath of God saying “For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
You are loved and seen and known—and loneliness doesn’t last forever. Look up; you are one who is Seen and Known.