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We’ve all heard the phrase, “even in a crowd I feel alone.” Most of us have also probably experienced what that feels like.
Although abstract and rather hard to pinpoint, loneliness can be a huge, looming presence--or lack of presence, leaving us feeling empty, reaching for more, stuck in a void.
In a blog post titled When loneliness threatens to swallow you whole… Elizabeth Esther shares her struggle with loneliness and the thing that she finds most helps to dispel it.
She begins by suggesting that loneliness is actually longing. “What if my loneliness is homesickness for God?” she asks. “What if loneliness is homesickness for home I’ve rarely known, a home more Person than place?”
The first step, then, in assuaging loneliness is to recognize that it is a lack of God--by and for whom we were made--that leaves us feeling empty and lacking.
After all, we were created to be in perfect communion with God, and though we are forgiven in Christ and can come boldly before God’s throne, we still feel the effects of sin and separation from God.
As Dr. Gary Smalley states in a Crosswalk.com article titled Finding Fulfillment in Life, “We all face the temptation to look to people, places and things to fill our cups.” But ultimately, Elizabeth Esther says, “All of these things end in disappointment.”
Therefore, perhaps the best thing to do when you feel lonely is not to try to fill the void with any number of things from church ministry to cleaning to more dangerous escapes like alcohol or drugs.
Perhaps the best thing is to realize that, as C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
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We were created for a world in which we would have continuous, intimate connection with our Creator and with others. And although we will not attain that perfect communion with God in this lifetime, God is still there in our loneliness.
In A Prayer for When You Feel All Alone on Crosswalk.com Christina Fox offers this prayer to God: “Help me to seek you in my loneliness. Help me to find my comfort, not in things, but in the love Jesus secured for me at the cross. I know that you will never leave me or forsake me. Help me in my unbelief. Help what I know to be true to be what my heart lives out as truth.”
Let that truth sink in and become a part of your heart and soul and be more than theoretical knowledge or empty doctrine.
And then, Elizabeth Esther says, go out into the world with that knowledge and serve others.
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“Service is the antidote to loneliness,” she says.
I feel the least lonely when I make food for my children and teach them about God's love. I feel the least lonely when I help old people, when I do volunteer work, when I buy the homeless guy a lunch, when I go to bed numbering all the things in my life, when I call my mom just because I know she likes phone calls, when I write a note of encouragement to someone who is going through a stressful time, when I hold space for a friend who is struggling, when I help a young mom who is frazzled with her new baby, when I listen to my husband talk about his business, when I smile at a stranger.
Isn’t it like our God to make the best cure for a problem we have something that is outside ourselves, something to do with meeting the needs of others? God desires for us to be deeply connected with him and with others, and oftentimes focusing on someone else’s needs cures our own emptiness in the proces.
Photo courtesy: flickr.com
Publication date: September 30, 2015
Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com