The other day I was scrolling through facebook (as I think we all have a tendency to do) when I came across a snippet from a beloved franchise (though some Christians may have been banned from this growing up) called Harry Potter. The snippet was of a scene in which Harry is expressing his feelings of isolation to trusted friend, Luna Lovegood. Luna then responds with the thought that she does not believe Harry is as isolated or misunderstood as he feels, but perhaps that is how “he-who-shall-not-be-named” wants him to feel.
After reading this, it struck me how many times on YouTube, Instagram, and even popular media, believers have expressed struggling feeling lonely. Whether that is due to lack of a romantic partner, feeling misunderstood in a struggle or secret, being the only believer in their family/ friend group, or even just feeling as though they don’t have any community. Regardless of the context, loneliness can be one of the most discouraging and debilitating feelings. Loneliness can lead to not only to feelings of depression, but also lack of motivation, isolation, decreased self-esteem and feelings of “unworthiness,” and sexual sin.
So, with all of this in mind, you may be thinking “how do we go about loneliness then?” It might not be as simple as “just go out and make more friends,” but there are a number of ways in which we can change our thinking about our circumstances to gain a different perspective, as well as practice healthy habits and practices to cope with feelings of loneliness when we do experience them.
1. Acknowledge The Community You Don’t See.
One of the ways in which people experience loneliness is through certain struggles or trials. I remember being in undergrad and feeling like I was the “only Christian in the world” who struggled with homosexuality and mental health. The belief that I had no one to relate to on these matters affected both my spiritual and mental health as feelings of isolation increased.
However despite what we might think, 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” This means that whatever it may be that we are struggling with, there are many other believers just like us who are going through the same exact thing.
Just this knowledge alone can help to alleviate those lies that tell you “I am all alone in this struggle.” There are thousands of other believers who are fighting similar battles right alongside you who know and understand the pain you are going through because they’re going through it too. In Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn,” the unicorn didn’t feel lonely even though she was the only one in the world. Why? Because she was under the impression that there were others in the world just like her. It wasn’t until she found out/ thought she was the only one that she started to feel anxious and lonely.
2. Connect With The Community You DO Have (Or Don’t Have Yet!)
Everyone wants deep and intimate friendships, but those take time to develop and form! Is there someone on your contacts that you’ve been wanting to reach out to? Or that one friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with? Take that first step!
It might feel scary or even awkward at first, but think about the first time you hung out with one of your closest friends, it probably wasn’t as relaxed as it is now, right? Eventually the more you hang out with someone and get to know them, the less those “awkward moments” will happen and eventually over time, you end up creating memories and learning new things about each other that deepen that friendship.
Obviously in today’s current climate, it might seem a bit hard to have the normal “coffee or lunch date” depending on where you live. However, during this time where doing things “virtually” has become the norm, we are lucky that we have access to platforms that allow us to connect with others “face-to-face” from miles away at the click of a button.
3. Take a Break from Social Media
Just from looking around at the world, it is obvious we are living in a “digital age” where social media has become a part of everyday life. We open our phones and instinctively start scrolling through apps filled with constant updates on the lives of those around us.
While social media has offered many positive changes to life (such as making it easier to keep in touch with friends,) there are quite a number of negatives that have resulted from social media as well. Some people may see others posts and stories and feel as though they are living a life that is “not as exciting” as some of their peers. Some may see people posting pictures surrounded by big groups of friends causing some to feel as though they are “missing out.”
The truth is, when it comes to social media, we only see what people want us to see. The tiny slices of people’s lives we see on social media are only a fragment of what actually goes on “off-camera” and more often than not, those fragments are usually only the most positive highlights of people’s lives.
Acknowledging this can help us to feel not as “left out” when we see our friends and peers posting about their “exciting lives.” So what do we do when we find ourself all alone on a Friday night? There a number of things we can do! Mentally engaging activities like reading, cooking, doing art, and puzzles can not only take our focus away from social media, but also redirect that energy into something rewarding and fun!
4. Pray And Spend Time With The LORD
When it comes to struggling with loneliness, hearing the words “God is always with you, so you’re never truly alone!” may leave you wanting to shoot back at someone with something like “it’s not that simple!” As humans, we were made to have fellowship with other people as God even said it is not good for man to be alone. However, despite our best efforts, we will still find ourselves in situations in which we are by ourselves and might find loneliness creeping in.
It is during these times that we SHOULD turn to The LORD and seek out His comfort. The truth is, no one will understand us like God does, He even knows us better than we know ourselves! If you really want to feel understood or find yourself in those moments where you truly do feel “all alone,” The LORD declares in His Word that He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). God isn’t going to “leave you all alone” in your struggles. Rather He is a present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Loneliness is by far one of the most discouraging feelings that most people, believers and non-believers alike, can experience. However, there are indeed ways that we can address our feelings whether it be through changing our mind about our circumstances or learning new ways to cope with our circumstances. At the end of the day, even as believers, we are not “exempt” from experiencing unpleasant emotions here on Earth. However, The LORD promises that there is no struggle that we experience here on Earth that is uncommon to man, and that knowledge alone can help us feel not as “alone” in our own struggles. As believers we are all a part of the same body in Christ. While we may experience feelings of loneliness in our temporary situations, at the end of the day, we are always a part of the amazing community that is the Body of Christ.
Jack is a 23 year old from the East Coast. He became a believer in college after joining campus ministry and learning about the sufficiency of Christ. His passion in life is to help spread the Good News and simplicity of The Gospel to those who may not always hear it while also advocating for mental health, both of which he does on his youtube channel “christianconvos.” In addition, Jack also loves reading and “outdoorsy” activities like hiking. His favorite verse is Acts 16:30-31.