What to Do When You Feel Lonely and Left Out
- Lysa TerKeurst Proverbs 31 Ministries
- 2016 26 Aug
The Devil wants me to fill my emptiness with an unhealthy dependence on the acceptance of others. Because then he can get me so focused on the shallow opinions of others I get completely distracted from deepening my relationship with Christ. And in the process is my masked boasting pulling others into the crazy comparison traps that lures them away from Christ as well? It’s all such an unhealthy cycle that’s never satisfying. And again, I’m not against social media but we do have to be so careful how we use it. Is it to bless others with encouragement and love or are we really just boasting on ourselves and feeding others’ unhealthy comparisons to us? One quick hop on social media, and you’ll see how careful we must be not to play right into the Devil’s schemes.
According to a 2015 study I conducted in partnership with Barna Group, women ages eighteen and older in the United States go to social media looking to connect and feel better about themselves, but only 14 percent walk away feeling encouraged. That’s a whopping 86 percent who may be going about their day feeling emptier and more deprived than before.
Nearly half of women report feeling lonely at least occasion- ally after spending time on social media. Sixty-two percent of Millennials say they feel lonely at least occasionally, with one in ten saying they usually do.1
It’s also interesting to me that six out of ten women say they feel like they want to change something about their lives at least occasionally after looking at social media. More than 78 percent of Millennials feel that way at least occasionally, with 21 percent saying they usually do.
I understand it’s hard to put a face to a statistic. So I decided to ask my Facebook friends how they would describe their experiences with social media to see if it lined up with the research.
And it did.
Donna N. said, “I’m connected to so many, yet I feel lonelier. Isn’t anyone out there having a bad day, too? Life feels less honest somehow.”
Kelly S. said, “I can’t help but compare myself to others’ lives and feel like I don’t measure up. People are only posting the positive stuff, so it’s easy to look at it and feel like they don’t have their own problems.”
Shelbie B. said, “I feel lonely and left out. It’s not right when I see women from my church posting pictures of themselves out having a good time and I have not been invited. I feel lonely all the time as I do try to make friends but everyone seems so disconnected. If I could just have one close friend it would mean so much to me.”
My heart aches when I read these brutally honest confessions.
Again, I’m not against social media being used in healthy ways. But we sure do need to be honest with ourselves. Is it helping us fight the lion, or is it actually feeding it?
And when I said the Devil is predictable, he totally is. These are the same three ways he tempted Jesus in Matthew 4:1–11. After Jesus had fasted for forty days, the Devil placed stones in front of Him, knowing Jesus could easily turn them into bread. Bread that could fill His emptiness. Jesus knew what empty felt like. The Devil also showed Him worldly wealth and splendor.
Jesus had emerged from a stable and hardly progressed past the basics of belongings. Having lived in perfection with memories of heaven, He found that every one of His earthly realities fell short.
Jesus knew what being deprived felt like.
The Devil also reminded Jesus of an untapped power source that would have surely silenced the skeptics and corrected the critics. Those who shunned Him and shamed Him would suddenly bow down before Him. Can you imagine the restraint it surely took not to throw Himself down and, in a sweep of angelic majesty, be elevated and worshipped by heavenly beings?
Jesus knew what being rejected felt like.
Jesus knew. He knew the feelings. He knew the struggles. And in an earth-shattering moment, Jesus exposed the way of escape for us. He matched every feeling—the emptiness, the deprivation, and the rejection—with truths straight from God’s Word.
Lies flee in the presence of truth.
Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of The Best Yes. She is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes from her sticky farm table in North Carolina. She still has a crush on her husband, Art, who she’s been married to for twenty-four years. They deeply treasure every minute they can get with their four married kids and one teenager who still keeps them very young. Connect with her at www.LysaTerKeurst.com.
Publication date: August 26, 2016