LonelinessI would like to start by saying that I consider myself very unqualified to write about loneliness. If there is one subject I don't understand well, it's loneliness. I've only been really thinking about it for about a day, but that's enough to make me feel like writing about what I was thinking. For a disclaimer, this is based mostly on my own experiences with loneliness and is not applicable or helpful in all situations. I know, it's kinda weird that I have a disclaimer in my blog, but since I like to talk in general (i.e. "all of us" "we"), I wanted to warn you that I know that it doesn't actually apply to everyone who may be reading this. Anyway, onto the topic at hand, I think that we need a definition of loneliness, to make it easier to discuss. Loneliness, first of all, is a feeling; not the state of being alone. People can be alone without feeling lonely. Just think about kids playing video games - they can shun human interaction for hours and hours without feeling the slightest bit deprived. So I would say that Loneliness is the result of unwanted separation or distance (from others, yourself, or God)
Loneliness and other people:
Now, when most people talk about loneliness, they look for the answer in other people. I'd say that many people think that loneliness is only related to distance from other people. This distance can be caused by all sorts of things: lack of contact, rejection, unkindness, lack of understanding, or a lack of love from either person will create distance in the relationship. Needless to say, there are many ways to create closeness and reduce distance in relationships, and all of us will be learning more and more ways to do so our entire lives. Some people are less socially adept than other, and so it's harder for them, but none of us have really figured to get rid of all distance! So in this blog, I'm not going to write about how to fix distance with others, because although closeness with other people is nice and good, it's not the main issue. Usually the distance between us and other people is not what's causing us to feel lonely. Consider what we look for from other people:
-We want people to understand us
-We want people to appreciate us
-We want encouragement
-We want to make a difference in people's lives
-We desire respect
-We crave love
-We need help/support
[Note: Those can absolutely be healthy things to look for - God did not create us to be alone. But when we feel crushingly alone, and feel like we NEED them, then there's got to be a deeper reason why we feel that way]
Translated into why we feel that we need those things, the list looks like this:
-We don't feel understood
-We don't feel appreciated
-We feel discouraged
-We feel ineffective
-We don't feel important
-We feel unlovable (sometimes because we feel that we are: incompetent, a failure, not good enough, etc)
-We don't know where to find solutions/we feel tired of trying
As you can see, most of those actually have to do with how we view ourselves and deal with ourselves. I think that people feel lonely mainly because they do not get along with themselves. Someone I know is the most despairingly lonely person I know, and absolutely desperate for attention from anyone and everyone - and see the problem is that she hates herself, and looks to others to accept her. Conversely, when other people treat us like we are not valuable, that can effect how we think of ourselves, and we might start treating ourselves like we are not valuable. So we'll go on to talking about getting alone with yourself and with God.
Loneliness and God
I start with loneliness and God because you never really can be at peace with yourself if you are not at peace with God. If you feel truly at peace with God and with yourself, then when you are alone, you won't really feel very lonely. I know that's true for me, anyway. When I felt despairingly lonely, I was not at peace with God or myself. I felt that I was not good enough, and felt far from God. After that changed, I could be by myself tons and I wouldn't feel unhappy! I'm happy just hanging out by myself: thinking, writing, praying, playing. Not to say that I don't look for friends and people - I do! But I don't feel lost without it. Basically, we feel lonely when we feel distanced from God. I've thought of six ways to get rid of distance, and feel closer to God:
1 - Salvation
Obviously, people are going to feel a void in their life, an emptiness, because of the distance between themselves and God created by their own sin when they are not saved. The simple solution to this distance between that person and God is for them to repent, trust in Christ as their Savior, and dedicate their life to Him. So simple that many people pass it by. Probably most of you reading my blog are saved already, so I'll put more of my focus on the other ways to feel closer to God.
2 - Understand our position before Christ
Basically, we need to understand that if we are saved, this is no condemnation for us left. No judgment, no anger, no wrath. All of that was given to Christ, who carried our sins on the cross. We are now dressed in Christ's righteous, so that God sees us as perfect. Beautiful, snow white perfect.
“ Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool. "
"As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us."
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"
2 Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
As you can see, the way God sees us, we are perfect, because we have Christ's righteousness. Our sins are now as white as snow, and we are a perfect new creation in Him. Technically, our flesh, the old man, is dead, and we are just waiting until we are freed from it. We will be, once we go to heaven, until then, we have to wrestle with our old nature, which technically is dead.
Most people have heard that, in theory, but in practice are taught that God is easily angered, and if you do much as miss an opportunity to do something extra, they have sinned and God is displeased and distant.
[For clarification, so that you don't think I've gone off the deep end into some sort of heresy, I'm not saying that we should all live a carnal life, or that we cannot grieve the Holy Spirit! But first of all, whenever God is displeased, he is still loving and close and we are still perfect in Christ before him! We should live for God, but not out of fear constantly! Those in the Old Testament were under the law, and were motivated by fear and by "shoulds," but we are under grace. Every sin in the past, present, or future is already taken care of. We are free to make our lives miserable and useless, but why would we want to? If you act and think as though you are still under the law, and hesitantly approach God in fear that you've made another mistake, and He is probably very mad and displeased, then you are going to constantly feel distanced from Him, and that's not the way He wants it to be. We are told in Hebrews 4:16 to boldly come before the throne of grace in time of need. And when are we more needy than when we are making mistakes? ]
Even in your weakest or strongest moments, God sees you as who you truly are in Christ: Perfect. He has no more anger or condemnation left for you. So you can be close whenever you want! (That's so awesome!)
3- Clear Conscience
(Wow - this blog is way too long already, but I'm not even close to done) I think the #1 problem that causes people to feel distance between themselves and God is an unclear conscience. Ongoing sin will definitely put a dampener on your closeness with Christ. You will feel uncomfortable around God, and actually start trying to avoid Him. That will make distance. [I should make special note to the ongoing sin of bitterness - that particular sin is so devastating in a relationship with God, I just had to mention it by name. It also tends to destroy all your relationships, not just your relationship with the one you are bitter against] Unconfessed sin will do the same thing. We know, of course, that God already knows about all our sins, but if we don't actually take the time to talk to him about it, and apologize and ask for help, we will feel ashamed to be in his presence. That also makes distance. Finally, if the sin involves someone else, it's also best to apologize to them and ask for forgiveness. It's one of the hardest things in the world, but also one of the most freeing!
It's especially hard to apologize for something people didn't know you did. For example, if you lie to someone, just a little lie that just slips out, it is SO hard to go back to that person and admit to it and apologize! But if you don't, you will have a weight on your spirit. I should add that this applies to sins in your distant past that never got resolved. When I first heard about this concept, God put it on my heart to try it, and so I apologized to people for stuff that I had stolen years and years before that they never knew I had stolen. That was embarrassing to my flesh and my pride. That's one way to learn humility. But God really blessed me and I felt very free after that. You may notice that I'm a very open person. Because I have a totally clear conscience (well worth keeping it that way!) I really feel like I have nothing to hide. I am open about my strengths and faults equally. If you have a completely clear conscience (and yes, it is worth the effort to brainstorm, and ask God about any unresolved or unconfessed sin) you will feel much more at peace with God than if you don't.
Sometimes we feel distanced from God because we are afraid to hear his will for us. You might notice that generally, when we feel distanced from God, it's because we are hiding from him, out of shame for our mistakes, fear of his will, hiding our sins, etc. Ever since the garden of Eden, it's been like God is available to us, and we are the ones hiding from Him. So anyway, the Bible speaks of "double-minded" christians, who have one eye on God and one eye on the world. When we know that we are not dedicated to God's will, we will feel distanced from Him, and sometimes we will hesitant to hang out with Him and find out what He wants, because we are scared that He'll want us to do something that we don't want to do, and then since we would know His will, we would have to do it. So we just kinda avoid asking Him about his specific will, and instead justify everything we do. "I'm going to church, God must want me to do that. Everything's good." If you tell God that you want to know his will, and that whatever it is, no matter how hard or easy, that you will follow it, (you can even ask God to help put your heart in the right place so that you want to follow Him) then that really does help with feeling close to God.
Sometimes we feel distanced from God just because we don't really know or understand Him. I'd say just study the Bible and take time every day to praise and thank God for who He is and what He has done. You'll understand Him better, which will make you feel closer to Him, and having such a fun conversation with Him about how great He is generally makes you feel closer too. Enjoyable time spent with anyone brings some closeness. Usually, after I talk to God and praise him and thank for all sorts of things, I really feel more in love with Him. All you need to fall in love with Him is to understand or see Him, because he's so awesome: He's so loving, smart, just, and FUN that it's impossible to see that and understand that without feeling somewhat awestruck!
6- Chatting with God
This is usually called prayer. Sometimes I like to pray to God more formally and respectfully, and sometimes I like to just chat with Him casually about the struggles I'm facing, and the highlights of my day, and stuff I'm worried about. He is the one being that I can just really be myself around. I'm not scared of what He will think of me, so I can just tell him everything I'm going through, wanting, thinking, and feeling. I also pray for other people, and praise God, but just sharing about your own life, even though he knows it all already creates closeness. It makes you feel understood, and like you're on the same team. God is always with you, so if you are feel lonely, just talk to him for a while. (Not just about how lonely you feel, but about everything! :) )
Loneliness and Yourself
Last but not least, you need to be at peace with yourself. If you dislike yourself, or are ashamed of yourself there will be unwanted distance between you and yourself. You can fight with yourself, or you can support yourself, but you are always going to have some sort of relationship with yourself, and a strained relationship isn't very fun since you are always with yourself! If you feel distant from yourself, and don't have patience of appreciation for yourself, or if you discourage yourself or don't care for yourself, you will feel lonely and look for all that from other people! That's a real key to loneliness. So I have three important ways that you can get along with yourself:
First of all, you need to accept yourself, and appreciate your own value and God-given gifts. As a side note on the verse "love your neighbor as yourself," if you don't understand your own value, you won't understand the value of other people, since your value is equally infinite. All people are made in the image of God and are valuable and lovable regardless of behavior. Unbelievers are referred to in Jesus' parable as "lost coins," and as we know, a coin that is lost is still valuable! It's still a coin. It's also best to accept the unchanging factors in your life, such as your looks, your family, your place in history, and your gender. God made you the way He wanted you to be, and if you don't like the way you are, then you are actually criticizing the one who made you - the ultimate genius and artist. He didn't make a mistake.
I should add that it is safe to praise yourself for accomplishments and talents that you have. Humility is not denying your talents, but rather giving credit where credit is due: God gave you your looks, abilities, and opportunities. Will this make you proud? Not really, because your value is, as I said, not based on performance. You can do wonderful things, and still have the same value as someone labeled "a loser." We are all to treat one another with love and respect, and in fact serve one another. Pride is when we think that we are more important somehow, and we should avoid that, but still can work on fulfilling our own potential and helping others to fulfill theirs.
It's good to learn patience, because you will need it in this life! You will need to wait on God. You will need to be patient with all the stupid people that you will deal with. You will also need to learn to be patient with the stupid person that you are - yourself. If you don't know how to be patient with other person, you won't know how to be patient with yourself. If you are not patient with yourself, you will find yourself constantly putting yourself down for being stupid, or slow, or any number of other things that you wouldn't charge other people with! You should treat others with respect, we know that, but we also need to treat ourselves with the respect and patience that we treat others. We actually learn and grow fastest that way. It's true. Don't be perfectionistic with yourself, and discourage yourself because you aren't doing as well as you expected, but rather encourage yourself: have courage and give yourself hope. In diets, the books often tell people not to be too negative, but rather reward themselves. If they don't, they generally quit and it doesn't work out well. In the same way, in real life, you gotta help yourself along, encouraging and being patient with yourself, as you would be with a little kid. (Those parents who are always yelling at their kids probably don't know how to be patient with themselves)
Finally, you need to have a clear conscience before God and other people, as I mentioned before in the section about distance from God. If you don't, then because you are a new creation in Christ, you will be ashamed of yourself. You don't want to be ashamed of yourself, that's really not very fun, and it definitely creates distance between you and yourself. So read the paragraph above on having a clear conscience. Don't be ashamed that you make mistakes and choose to do wrong. By all means, you can feel guilty about it, that's healthy, but shame is when you feel that YOU are bad. Guilt is when your ACTIONS are bad, and shame is when YOU are bad. But you have to remember, you are not the problem, you are perfect in Christ. Your actions are the problem, and they are not you - you can leave them and change.
Wow - I really have talked forever. I will try to make a short and easy-to-understand summary. The topic was the feeling of loneliness, which comes from unwanted distance and separation from yourself, from God, and from other people. The main issues of loneliness spring from your feeling distanced from yourself and God, which will cause you to look to others for what you are missing.
So to be close to God, your best bet is to be saved and to understand your relationship with Him. Have a clear conscience before Him, be dedicated to His will, and every once in a while take some time to praise Him and to chat with Him!
To maintain closeness with yourself, you should accept yourself for who you are, and be patient with yourself, encouraging yourself as you would encourage others. And don't be ashamed of yourself; having a clear conscience helps with this, but it's also a way of thinking.
Well, that's all I have to say! If you liked this blog, then please, recommend it to all your friends! If you absolutely hated it, then please, recommend it to all your enemies! Hehe... But seriously, I do hope that this blog had some truth or helpfulness. May God Bless You All.
Praise God Forever!