Dealing With Loneliness
A week ago, someone close to me called me and told me that she was struggling with loneliness, and asked me to address it on my blog, because she felt that others, too, must struggle with loneliness and that perhaps the information could be helpful.
That girl was my oldest daughter, Rebekah.
The motherly instincts inside me were raging and I was inclined to instantly hop on the next plane to South Carolina and make it all better. As she was muttering the words “I’m struggling with being lonely” I was hightailing it to my computer to search Expedia for discount flights out of Boston. The fact that we couldn’t afford it entered my mind and exited just as quickly. Debt? Who cares. This is my kid, I tell you. A little food, some retail therapy and some laughs would make her happy again.
But thankfully my emotional response gave way to reason. Although I endured a sleepless night worrying about my girl, in the morning I knew that what Rebekah was experiencing was part of God’s plan to mature her in the faith.
She needed to find her solace in God. This is the hard path. The easy path would be what I was inclined to do in my “mother love” moment. Tamper with externals–>the retail therapy, the “have another cupcake” stuffing of the void inside. The hard path is to quiet yourself before your Creator and seek Him.
The next day she called me and said “Mom, ya know how I told you that I was struggling with loneliness? Well last night I made a list of all the qualities I long for in a good friend, and then went to my Bible. I started writing down all the areas that God is like that in the Scripture, and I realized that He is what I really need to be satisfied.” She was driven to seek God.
Yes, dearest Rebekah, You are so right. “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” And thankfully, the Holy Spirit showed you truth, when your heart sick mother failed you.
And because I want to point you in the right direction, here is some advice from Elizabeth Elliot from her booklet “Loneliness” that was helpful to me.
Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.
Remember that you are not alone. “The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage.” (Deut. 31.8) Jesus promised His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.
Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.
Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.
Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.
Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.
Do somethings for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God’s peace that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.
“The important thing is to receive this moment’s experience with both hands. Don’t waste it. “Wherever you are, be all there,” Jim once wrote. “Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”