Last week, I shared my struggles with loneliness. And believe you me, the struggle is real every day, y’all. There are some days I’m more content than others, but loneliness always finds a way to make frequent, unauthorized appearances in my daily life. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I can either be a victim of my loneliness or I can figure out how to peacefully coexist with it. As a result, I’m trying to find ways to constructively manage it. What you’re about to read isn’t revolutionary, but it’s what works for me. I don’t know about you, but I find it helpful to have a little structure so I can stay focused.
- I will consciously decide to spend time with God daily. Without the proper foundation, my house will crumble. If you’re old enough to remember Psalty the Singing Songbook (showing my age here, for sure), you probably remember the song “Sandyland”. I wouldn’t normally link to a kids’ song, but the lyrics and nostalgia came flooding back to me as I was writing. Plus, there’s a cheesy saxophone solo and a round that throws in Rock of Ages! Man, I miss that singing songbook.
- I will pray for God to prepare me to be in another relationship. I know I’m still going through the grieving process. I’ve come a long way with God’s help in the last 16 months, but also know that there really isn’t an end date to my grief. God’s got some work to do on my heart to get it in the right place for a relationship. And I just need to be open for whatever that looks like.
- Find single people to hang out with. This may sound easy for some of you, but as an introvert in a new city, this is more than just a little off putting. But it needs to be done. Lord, give me strength!
- Read books on being single. And boy, are there a lot of them. After some careful deliberation, I’ve chosen, The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating, by Andy Stanley, Living Single, by Tony Evans, Redeeming Singleness, by Barry Danylak and, They Were Single Too: 8 Biblical Role Models, by David Hoffeditz. I already started reading the last one and have found it very interesting thus far. I wonder if there’s any significance to my list being comprised of all male authors. Hmmm …
- I will celebrate the blessings I do have instead of pining for something I think will make me happy. I have amazing friends here in Waco (one of which came to mow my lawn last week without me even asking), amazing friends in Fort Worth and amazing long-distance friends in Chicago (all of which I miss terribly!), not to mention all of the family I live close to for the first time in 14 years. God’s blessed me in so many different ways lately that it’s incredibly arrogant and immature of me to allow my loneliness to minimize all of the great things in my life.
- And again, I’m saving the best and most important for last. I will talk to God about my loneliness. It’s not as if He’s surprised by it. Just look at Jesus. Even though there were people around Him all the time, I wouldn’t be surprised if He felt lonely often. He was sinless His entire life, which had to make it a little more than uncomfortable growing up. Remember the Goody Two-Shoes in your school and how much teasing they got? Jesus was that, times infinity so I can only imagine He was teased mercilessly.
The prophet Isaiah said that He would be despised and rejected by men. (Isaiah 53:3) He was alone in the desert for 40 days. (Matthew 4:1-11) He told his disciples that they would all desert him. (Matthew 26:31) He was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15) Even Peter denied him three times. (Luke 22:54-62)
When given the choice of having Jesus or Barabbas released, the crowed chose Barabbas and began yelling for the crucifixion of Jesus. (Luke 23:13-25) Even on the cross, He cried out to His Father asking why He had forsaken Him. (Matthew 27:46) So yeah, Jesus was no stranger to loneliness whatsoever. Remember, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
I’m not naive enough to think that there is a formula to make my loneliness go away. I’m beginning to learn that God brings me into times of solitude because He wants my focus solely on Him. And it’s during these times (unless I’m being pigheaded about it), that I grow leaps and bounds in my walk with Him. I’m going to try my best and, with God’s help, I will no longer be a victim to loneliness.
I’ll leave you with Proverbs 17:22:
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
So what’s it gonna be? Are you going to be crushed by your loneliness or are you going to choose joy above all else? I choose joy! What are the steps you’re going to take to combat loneliness?