3 Things You Can Do Today to Not Be Lonely
- Jennifer Heeren Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 24 Sep
Loneliness is a type of sadness that feels like you don’t have any friends or anyone to talk to. You may have a lot of people around you, and yet, you’re never really talking with anyone. Loneliness isn’t just felt when you’re isolated; it’s very often felt while you’re in the middle of a crowd or a very busy social life. Almost everyone feels lonely at one time or another in their life.
These feelings may be triggered by:
-working too much or general busyness,
-not resting enough,
-having sickness or injury,
-going through a divorce or loss,
-living with infertility,
-dealing with empty nest syndrome,
-or changing jobs or residences etc.
Actually, it can be prompted by any stressful situation that anyone goes through. Therefore, no one is immune to feelings of loneliness. Loneliness doesn’t just lead to depression, as if that’s not bad enough. It can also cause damage to your cardiovascular, hormonal, and immune systems. It causes stress which increases blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and inflammation. And there’s no way to accurately diagnose, prevent, or treat loneliness. But God can cure it when we look to Him for the answer.
Loneliness Is Depicted in the Bible
Even the prophet Elijah had a time of loneliness/depression. He travelled all day in the wilderness and sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he would die. “I have had enough, Lord, take my life.” But the Lord knew what Elijah needed; an angel awoke Elijah and told him to get up and eat. Elijah looked around and saw warm bread and a jar of water, so he ate and drank (1 Kings 19:4-8). When you’re tired or hungry, you are very vulnerable to feelings of loneliness.
The food and drink refueled Elijah and he was able to travel forty days to Mount Sinai, but those lonely feelings came over him again. He cried out, “I have zealously served You, Lord. But the people do everything against you. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me” (1 Kings 19:8-10). First, the Lord told him to go out and stand on the mountain. A mighty windstorm hit the mountain, but God was not in the wind. Then, Elijah felt an earthquake, but the Lord wasn’t in that either. Then, he saw a fire, but the Lord wasn’t there. Lastly, there was a gentle whisper. That was God’s whisper assuring Elijah of His presence (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Who Is with Us in Our Loneliness?
When we feel down, sometimes we need a new perspective, as well as a reminder that God is with us. It can be easier to distance yourself from other people when you put up walls and boundaries in your mind that are meant to keep bad things out. But those walls also end up preventing good things from entering in. A closed door isn’t welcoming, and people learn to stay away.
However, we don’t need to build our own walls of protection. The Lord wants to be our rock, fortress, and deliverer. We can take refuge in Him (Psalm 18:2, Psalm 91:2, 2 Samuel 22:2, Psalm 144:2). God’s walls of refuge keep us safe even when we’re in the process of stepping out of our comfort zones. When He is with us, we can safely step out of hiding to see what adventure He may have for us. My walls of comfort keep me locked in a prison of my own making. God’s protection leaves me free to move around and really live.
How Can We Be Lonely in a World of Social Media?
You would think that feelings of loneliness would be lessened in our current world of social media, which can connect you with thousands of people all over the world. But this isn’t the case. The loneliness epidemic is growing. Often, the people who use social media the most are the loneliest. Social media can supplement our relationships, but it should never be our only outlet. In-person conversations, sitting across from someone, and really talking and listening is much more fulfilling. Even phone calls and emails can take a social media relationship to another level.
Too much social media can increase anxiety. You always feel like you should be doing more compared to others, so you work extra hard. Then you fall into extreme busyness and you never really connect with people. How long has it been since you’ve had a real, heart-to-heart talk with a friend? Real conversations are much better than status reports and surface talk, even though they take an investment of time and emotion.
How to Combat Loneliness
Go to public places and look for people who are by themselves. People are often alone nowadays, sitting and looking at their phone or tablet while eating. We don’t always notice them though because we are also looking at our tablet or phone. You never know, the person you spot may be looking to talk to someone too. Of course, you probably won’t share intimate details of your life with a stranger right away, but you may spark the beginning of a great friendship. Who knows until you try?
Fear will try to stop you but don’t let it. The worst that can happen is that person dismisses you as someone they don’t want to talk to. But even if they do, shake their disinterest off and go find someone else. Jesus said to fear not because He is always with you through everything, even rejection. And who knows rejection more than Jesus?
Focus on meeting a need of someone else, not just your own wants. Loosen pride’s hold on your life by deliberately looking away from yourself and onto others.
Here Are 3 Things You Can Do to Start Making a Difference
The #1 and #2 cures for loneliness are actually the #1 and #2 commandments given to us by Jesus.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart.
The more you learn to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, the more you will remember His great love for you as well as the fact that He is always with you. Cultivate a closeness with your Lord and Savior through reading His Word so you can fight off the temptation of loneliness easier. Truly, you are never alone.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Talk to people regularly. Love people, care about them, and spend time with them. Show them that the world isn’t always a lonely place. And let them show you the same thing.
3. Force yourself to look outward instead of inward.
When you start looking outward, you can also follow Philippians 2:3-4:
- Don’t be selfish.
- Don’t try to impress others.
- Be humble.
- Think of others as better than yourself.
- Don’t look out only for your own interests.
- Take an interest in others.
Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to follow these ideals. It takes a while to learn these things. I don’t do these things all the time because of fear, but when I do, life seems less lonely. I’m not perfect, and you won’t be perfect either. But that’s okay because you and I have a helper and Savior who is. When you’re making progress, your faithful service shines like an offering to God. Every day is a new chance to meet new people. New opportunities can appear on any given day, don't forget to look for them.
Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/francescoch