(Image by© Adina Nani | Dreamstime.com)
Loneliness is complex.
Have you ever been in the middle of a big group of people and felt all alone? Probably all of us have. Loneliness is not necessarily a matter of having someone around us – even happily married people sometimes drift apart emotionally and wind up sharing a bed together, yet feel desperately alone.
So when it comes to dealing with loneliness there are no simplistic answers. But probably all of realize there is a danger in being alone.
I Must be in a Relationship!
Maybe you’ve done this – if not, you’ve at least seen someone go through this. Someone is hurting and alone. They are tired of being alone. Everyone else seems to have someone. Everyone else seems to be happier than they are. They feel like everyone is wondering what is wrong with them since they have no one.
And so the decision is made – I will find someone. This begins a series of compromises – of personal convictions and even of their personality. The person who has decided to no longer be alone becomes someone they are not – in order to become what they believe someone else will find attractive.
They may succeed in finding a relationship. The relief this will provide will be substantial – at least for a period of time.
But obviously, it is a relationship that is built on compromise and deception. It is not authentic. It is not healthy. And most likely, it will come crashing down – and everyone gets hurt.
Pain and Life
Life involves suffering. Our culture for some reason is obsessed with happiness – yet because we set up such an expectation for happiness as the standard of the good life, we create an expectation that creates misery.
If we expect and even embrace suffering as a normal and regular component of life – the scenario above can be handled in a much better way.
Let’s suppose the same person becomes very aware of their loneliness, and they have that strong desire for a relationship. This person realizes that pain is part of life. The also have integrity as one of their prime values (no deceit allowed in order to relieve their pain). Instead of doing desperate things to relieve the pain, they refuse to compromise who they are and instead understand that the pain they feel is a sign.
It is a sign that they need to deal with something.
That something is the reality of who we are and what life is all about.
Who Are You?
Is your worth determined by what you can do or what you look like? According to the world’s concept of self-esteem, this is the case.
You esteem yourself because of your abilities in a certain area. Or you are proud of yourself because of the beauty of your hair, lips, or other body features. And if those abilities or features are substantial, this could work for you, at least for a while. But what happens as you age, put on weight, wrinkles, and become less skilled at whatever it was that made you “esteem” yourself to begin with?
What happens if you think you have great skill in an area and then you meet someone who makes you look incompetent and amateurish?
Has your esteem of yourself changed? Has your value as a person declined?
Self-esteem it is a dangerous illusion. Are you only valuable because of what you can do or what you look like? If so, then you are nothing more than a product rated by its value for consumption. You must reject this form of “self-esteem.” It is subhuman, it is degrading, and it does not reflect the true value of you.
Or perhaps, and people do this, you believe your value is determined by whether or not you have a relationship with a significant other. In other words, if you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend (or husband/wife, lover, etc) then there must be something wrong with you – or else you would have someone.
But think critically about this idea. Is it really true that a person only has value if they are paired up romantically or otherwise with someone else? It sounds pretty sick when you put it that way. Plus, everyone who is currently in a significant relationship was once not in a relationship! Were they without value until they met someone?
This too is a degrading and shallow view of the value of you.
Learn From Lonely
Loneliness stinks. It is a miserable feeling. But as we have pointed out, compromising who you are to get in to a relationship is not what you need.
Pain such as this is not pointless. As was mentioned earlier, pain is a sign that we need to deal with something.
Here is the cold truth – something we specialize in at Love University.
Each of us is made in the image of our Creator God. That alone makes us of tremendous worth. Whether we feel it or not, God looks at you and is pleased with what He made. He will grieve and suffer with you when you make poor decisions – decision that harm you and do not bring about the good He intends for you.
Yet He loves you and is pleased with who you are.
But get this – since we are made in His image, we are inherently relational. The one true God of the universe is composed of 3 individuals. We know them as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yet they are so tightly related that they constitute One entity.
It is complex, yet someone likened it to a clover – one plant, three leaves.
But what this three-in-one Creator means to you is that you are designed, like Him, to relate to others. We need to interact, share, and make contact with other people in our life.
And for most of us there is a desire to have one very special relationship – a relationship of ultimate joining.
It’s called marriage. It starts (usually) with dating. Boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. Our perhaps courtship.
So the hurt we sometimes feel when we are alone and desiring a special someone to share our lives with is a reflection of the image of God.
So when we do not have a close relationship with others we will sometimes experience pain.
And that is okay.
Everyone experiences pain – especially those who force themselves into a romantic/significant relationship by deceit. Which pain would you rather have? To be alone wishing you were with just anybody? Or to be with somebody wishing you were alone?
The Value of Loneliness
Just as we are designed to relate to others in life we are also our most connected when we relate to the One who loves us the most. The pain of loneliness can be a signal to drive us to pursue the God who gave us our life.
Human relationships are tricky. People are fickle and changing. People will fail us at times, no matter how much they promise otherwise.
And we will fail the special people in our life – no matter how much we promise otherwise.
The relationship with God is predictable. He is unchanging. He will not fail us.
Being spiritually minded can be challenging – but sometimes pain can drive us there. For the single person, it may be the pain of loneliness or rejection.
For the dating person, it may be the pain of loneliness or rejection.
For the married person, it may be the pain of loneliness or rejection.
Everyone feels lonely at times, everyone feels that pain.
It does not change the value of you.
The Relational Deception
As a single person aching for a significant relationship, we may build into that desire that the imagined relationship will be more than it ever could be.
That special girl or guy – we think that they will be our everything.
Lovers promise each other, “I will always be there for you.”
They mean it.
Single, dating, and married people sometimes feel lonely and sometimes hurt.
So do not fall for the relational deception – the notion that having a boyfriend/girlfriend, or even a husband/wife – will somehow fix all our pain and suffering.
Those relationships will at times bring great joy.
Those relationships will at times bring pain.
Loneliness is not the exclusive possession of single people.
Seek Significance in God
If you need a picture of what you are worth – just envision this.
There is a God who carefully crafted you to be exactly who you are. He smiles when He sees your face. He laughs when you are happy. He cries when you cry. He gets angry when someone hurts you.
He wants to hear from you – something we call prayer.
And He has some important things to say to you – His written word is found in the Holy Bible. It reveals Who He Is.
He called out a group of His people, commonly called the church. It is not a building. It is not a group of perfect people. It is a group of people who love God, love and support each other, and who provide comfort and a listening ear for each other when the suffering and pain of life occurs.
Church is people, not a building. You need a church.
What God did through Jesus contains the ultimate picture of your worth.
He cares so much for you that He chose to pay the price for your sins. He, the Father, believed you were worth the price of His Son, Jesus. He suffered and died on a cross so that you could live with the Father for all of eternity.
You are priceless.
No earthly relationship can add to or take away from your value.
And when you grasp that, the loneliness we all feel sometimes become more bearable.
Don’t compromise the value of you for a short term reward. Trust God to guide your path, accept what He says you are worth. If He provides a significant other, great. If He doesn’t, great.
He knows what He is doing.
He made you after all.
You are precious…
Question: How do you handle loneliness?