Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

Hope for the Lonely

(This article first appeared on Woman to Woman Mentoring.)

She’s the woman whose kids are grown and so busy launching their new lives, she feels there’s no room for her. She’s the young adult who, after accepting a job halfway across the country, spends every evening alone. And she’s the mother, the wife, or caregiver who, for countless reasons, spends her day engaging with hundreds of virtual friends on Facebook wishing one of them would step away from their screens to see her, truly see her.

We’ve become the lonely, disconnected generation. According to statistics, nearly one quarter of us don’t have anyone we feel we can rely on and half of us don’t have a single confidant outside of family. This means, on any given Sunday, there’s a 50-50 chance the woman sitting next to us is deeply in need of a friend.

We weren’t meant to live in solitude. From the beginning of time, God placed the need to connect deep within our hearts. This need, embedded within us, was designed to draw us closer to one another and closer to our Savior.

In a perfect, grace-filled world, that’s exactly what would happen. But sin invaded the creation God once called very good and tainted our relationships and wounded our hearts, driving wedges between us.

Sins’ isolating effects

We long for connection, but we fear this at the same time, because true relationship requires risk. A risk that leaves us vulnerable to pain and open to rejection.

So we hide, or strive to change who we are in order to gain acceptance in an attempt to fill the gaping hole in our soul through our own strength. I’ve seen this again and again, and the casualty that results after years of defensive, destructive living.

I’ve seen the pain. I’ve heard the stories of abandonment and betrayal, of fear and self-protection. Of longing for relational intimacy.

What we fear

Statistics say women fear loneliness more than a cancer diagnosis

Think about that for a moment. They fear feeling insignificant, unknown, and unseen over contracting a potentially terminal illness. And yet, that doesn’t really surprise me. We all know the joy of spending a lazy, giggly day with someone we love. When a dear friend was dying of brain cancer, what pained her most wasn’t her loss of vision or speech or motor skills, but the time she’d never have with her three little boys. Those moments were precious, made all the more so because she knew they wouldn’t last.

And so, I get it. Relationships matter. They’re a core part of who we are. Who we were created to be. Of course, we ache when that necessary piece of life is missing. But even in our pain, there’s hope, because we follow a reconciling, uniting God. The Hand that formed us from the dust, that breathed life into our mortal lungs, and created within us a need for connection, unites us by His blood.

God can help

He’s our Creator and Provider, which means, if He planted this need deep within us, He will fill it. But it might take time. It’ll take pushing through hard conversations, holding tight to relationships when others don’t behave as we’d hoped. It’ll take digging deep into our hurts and fears and insecurities and handing those over to Jesus.

It’ll take finding an imperfect yet grace-filled church family we can plant our roots deep into. Because here’s the deal—we don’t need random, superficial relationships. Those will only leave us feeling empty and depleted.

We need unity. Sisterhood. A strong and committed family.

And as much as we need this, our sisters do as well. You may have heard the phrase: If you want a friend, be one. The same sentiment applies here, because nearly 50% of the women you and I meet in a given day are lonely. Deeply lonely. Painfully lonely.

You can be their friend. You can help fill that hole. As you do, maybe you’ll find your hole fills as well.

Did anything resonate with you today?

  • How might past hurts and the fears those can generate be keeping you from deep and lasting community?
  • How might surrendering those to Jesus bring you to a deeper level of freedom and friendships?
  • Or perhaps God’s calling you to reach out to someone else. What might it look like to truly be Jesus to that person?

Share your thoughts, examples, and suggestions with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

If you struggle with rejection, I encourage you to come to one of our upcoming Bold and Brave conferences where you’ll learn how to break free from the shackles of fear to live in freedom. Find out more HERE.

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