|Loneliness is God's invitation to relationship with him. (Photo by Caleb Smith)|
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV).
Isolation is common for single moms. Single parenthood doesn’t easily accommodate a social life. We’re busy, plus we may not fit into social settings comfortably without a partner. Stress leaves us irritable, and we feel we are bad company. Loneliness is often the result.
However, I believe that loneliness is more about the heart than circumstances. We’ve all heard that some of the loneliest people are married. It’s possible to feel peaceful and content when alone, and lonely when surrounded by people. Clearly, the deciding factor of loneliness is the state of our heart, not the number of people we interact with.
Yet the answer isn’t to become so perfect and healed that we don’t need people anymore. We can’t survive without relationships. Isolation is harmful.
Rather, loneliness indicates we need our Creator. Our first step in resolving loneliness is to transfer our focus from people to him. Our relationship with God is foundational to developing healthy relationships with other people.
A God-starved heart that reaches obsessively for friendship repels people. We’re asking them to meet our insatiable need, offering nothing in return. No one wants such a draining relationship. People are only human; they can’t fulfill a heart that’s crying for God.
When we demand people’s friendship as a solution to our loneliness, we resist or deny our pain. With God, it’s different. A doctor can’t treat the wound a patient denies; and we must feel our loneliness before he can heal us. To be healed, loneliness must be faced, embraced, and felt, in God’s presence.
A helpful exercise might be to sit quietly with our loneliness, considering all its frightening corollaries and feeling its empty aches. Instead of resisting it, we can look expectantly to God, asking him to help us. We can trust him to meet our need for human companionship, his way, in his time. Once we face our loneliness this way, it loses its power.
God loves and understands us perfectly. He wants to meet the insecurities and fears that send us scurrying to increasingly distant friends. He invites us to discover who he created us to be, in the context of this surrendered, trusting relationship. He wants to transform us from needy takers to giving healers. Loneliness can’t flourish in a heart that is other-centered.
A surrendered relationship with God frees us to develop relationships with people. Trusting God to lead us, we can step out in faith. A healthy heart will naturally connect with others in a healthy way. It’s time to invite others into our lives.
If our schedule is crowded, we can ask God to show us ways we can exchange solitary activities for community. Some churches, for example, offer inexpensive dinners on Wednesday nights, followed by children’s programs and classes for adults. Carpools to work and school, sharing a lunch break with a friend, and spending occasional weekends with family or friends might be other options. We can pray for solutions to isolation, and persistently seek them, trusting God to lead us.
Whatever our circumstances, the key to healing the lonely heart is receiving God’s love, uniquely delivered to us by the One who knows us perfectly.
If you’re not sure you have a relationship with God, read The Ancient Story here.
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