Loneliness is a hard thing, a depressing thing, and something that we all struggle with from time to time. There seem to be certain lonely seasons in our lives, times when life seems overwhelming, when we feel misunderstood, when we sink lower into our own thoughts, feelings, and sadness. Loneliness can be crippling to the heart and the soul.
But someone much wiser than I told me something this morning: Loneliness is also very much about choice.
And she was right. While it’s true that I can’t control others and how they view me, while it’s true that I can’t magically force others to invite me or include me, I can do something about my loneliness.
What can I do about loneliness?
Well, here are some ideas:
Pray about it
If we pray about our kids, our money, our stress – why not pray for a friend? God says in Philippians 4:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Wouldn’t a friend be included in that everything? Don’t you think the God that knows you, loves you, and molds you also sees and cares for your lonely heart? Tell him your burden and ask for a friend.
Be open to finding the unexpected
Sometimes, when we pray, we have a very specific list of criteria:
Lord, please grant me a friend. I’d like her to be a great cook and invite me over for dinner. I’d like her kids to be the same age as my kids. And I would love for her to be in the same neighborhood as me and the same church. Oh, and that she likes coffee.
It’s not wrong to want those things in a friend – or to find them. But sometimes, God answers our prayers in ways we don’t at first see:
In the mom who’s ten years older than I am, who is sleeping through the night, who remembers those days of newborns and milk and poop, and yet, has sanity because she is past that exhausting stage. She blesses me with her humor and her experience. She teaches me how to be a better mom.
In the single college aged friend who doesn’t yet have kids. Who reminds me of how blessed I am to have found a Christian man to build my life with. Whose passionate, spiritual nature reminds me of how I need to grow and stretch and read and challenge myself. Who inspires me to be a better Christian.
In the older woman, whose kids are out of the house. She is my “mom away from mom.” She is steady, not hormonal, and so real. She doesn’t pretend like she did it all perfectly and talking with her makes me want to grow mature, like she did. It makes growing older look like something precious, beautiful, and Godly.
God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we expect. But He does always give us what we need.
Put yourself out there
The funny thing about feeling sad or lonely or left out – is that a lot of other people also feel that way. All it takes is one person reaching out to make someone else sparkle and brighten.
A text to invite another mom on a playdate.
A Facebook message to ask someone over for coffee.
A blanket invite to your ladies’ Bible study class to come over and watch a movie at your house. (Popcorn’s cheap, right?)
Yes, it’s hard to be the one to reach out, but if everyone has that thought, no one would ever do anything! Perhaps you will be the highlight of someone else’s lonely day. Never underestimate how the Lord can use you.
So today, if you’re lonely, know that you aren’t alone. And I challenge you to do something about it. Do it with me. We might just find that God has something beautiful in store, if we will only act.