Sometimes battles that take place on the inside are the hardest. They aren’t visible to a passerby and unless the person who is at war within is willing to talk about it, it will go completely unnoticed. I’ve had an on-going battle since high school with loneliness. It’s not consistent and it doesn’t always hit the same way. But when it does, it’s an internal battle to believe truth and not submit to lies. It’s emotionally taxing. You feel like you don’t belong and that no one understands what you are going through. I can be surrounded by my closest, dearest friends and still feel as if I don’t at all fit in, it’s as if I have no place or value.
The struggle of loneliness goes beyond the surface... deeper, much deeper. It creates an ache well within my soul. There's no quick fix or Band-Aid to fix it. It goes beyond the fix of relationships with an endless wave of lies washing over me. It hit again this past year. Some days were exhausting, Sundays became really hard days, and I felt shame over the struggle. So I started talking about it with friends in different seasons of life: married, empty nesters, singles, men, and women. It was then that I realized that I was not alone; I am not the only one with this struggle.
As I have reflected and evaluated over the past few years of my life and battled through loneliness, fought the lies, and clung to truth... here is some of what I have learned:
- The Lord is unchanging (Malachi 3:6).
- The Lord loves his people. (Psalm 136:26, John 3:16-17)
- Combine one and two: the Lord’s love for His people never wavers. He consistently is extending that love to us. On top of that He promised in Hebrews 13:5 to never leave us or forsake us. And we know that nothing can ever separate us from that love (Romans 8:39).
- There is no sin that is not common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13). While the root of our loneliness may not be the same, the sin manifests in a similar way.
- Trusted friendship is key. Those dearest friends that I can be around and still feel like I don’t fit in with have battled this with me faithfully, some over years and others more recently. Most importantly they are willing to speak truth to my pain. What has ministered to me the most this year is one friend simply saying, “I get it.” She didn’t alienate me, but she sought to give simple comfort.
- The Lord has used my loneliness to reveal sin, and each time has provided a hatred for that sin and the grace to move away from it.
- Each time I come to the end of a season of loneliness I am left with a deeper longing for heaven.
At times I feel blindsided by loneliness, it creeps in unexpectedly like a leak in your ceiling. Like that leak it seems to flood everything, affecting how I relate to others, how I view and participate in ministry. This hasn’t been the first time I’ve struggled through loneliness and I hope it won't be my last. I would go through it all over and over again because each time I learn more about the Lord and have a deeper yearning for Him. As with all suffering, it is well worth it to know God more and have a greater understanding of his grace that I am always in need of. Pressing in to know Him deeper in the midst of my loneliness may not completely cure it (until heaven), but it will give it meaning and beauty that can only come from relationship and comfort from God himself.