November 12, 2013
"Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn't have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!" Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NIRV)
Lonely. It's not a word I thought I'd ever use to describe myself, but that's how I felt.
For many years after a hard move I felt alone.
Close friends had always been a part of my life, and the absence of intimate friendships left me feeling sore-hearted. I longed to have someone to meet for coffee or help me expend some of my many daily words on the phone. It would have been wonderful to have a woman who would both listen and share.
Over time, I made new friends and re-established older friendships, and most days I feel connected and content. But I still remember what it felt like to be lonely. Recently, I read a study published by the American Sociological Review that cited statistics that showed half of Americans only have two close friends. And one out of four Americans say they don't have any close friends.
Not a single one. That's a lot of lonely hearts.
Why should we care? Scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:10 that our friends are our helpers. When times get tough, they can help us navigate through them. "Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn't have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!" (NIRV)
So how can we be part of the solution, to help guarantee no one falls down without having a friend to pick them up?
If you're lonely ...
During my lonely days I told myself this over and over: When you don't have a friend, BE the friend to others that you would like to have.
"Amy," I'd say ...
• "Would you love a friend who takes time to show that she cares by picking up the phone and asking about your day? Then pick up the phone and ask about someone's day."
• "Would you love a friend who keeps confidences and is trustworthy? Then be trustworthy."
• "Would you love a friend who asks you to go the movies or for a walk? Then ask someone to go along when you do these things."
It's easier to stay isolated sometimes than to reach out, especially if you've been hurt or disappointed many times. I know too well. But I want to encourage you to reach out, show love and care about others.
God taught me so many things during my loneliness. I learned to be more dependent on Him. I learned to appreciate the friendship of my family more. I took a hard look at some things that weren't so wonderful about myself and worked to change them.
During lonely times of life, be intentional about connecting to God and others. There's so much to be learned in these times.
If you're not lonely ...
Think about your neighborhood, church, or an organization you are part of. If there are 40 women there, 10 of them feel like they don't have even one friend. Could God be calling you to be that friend?
Look for ways to open your circle of friends to new people. Watch for that woman at church sitting by herself, the co-worker who eats lunch alone, or the neighbor who never seems to be invited.
Reach out today to be part of one less life feeling lonely.
Dear Lord, You are the friend who is closer than a brother or sister. In this time of loneliness and seeming friendlessness, show me how precious friendship with You can be. Please teach me everything I need to learn in this phase of life. Would You also prepare a friend for me and prepare me to be a trusted, valued friend? In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Do You Know Him?
Visit Amy Carroll's blog for more encouragement!
Setting our hearts and minds on Christ helps take the loneliness away. Join the Proverbs 31 Ministries' team of writers in doing this through Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living.
Reflect and Respond:
If you are lonely, take a step to be around people with whom you have things in common. Sign up for a class, join a book club, or attend a women's small group at your church.
What is God teaching you about friendship with Him through loneliness?
Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes." (NIRV)
© 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.