As I sit here on this evening, I know that there is something I should write about. I know there is a topic heavily on my heart these days, but what am I doing… avoiding it. Because it’s something we all feel too often, yet don’t really talk about. And that is loneliness. The word itself sounds rather depressing. I have come to see that the word holds this heavy weight. And that it’s the one thing that just about every human fears the most.
This past year I moved to the biggest city in the United States, where there are 8,550,405 other people also residing. Yet since moving here, what I have heard way more times than I can count is the phrase, “New York City is one of the loneliest places.” I have met some truly incredible people here with insane amounts of talent, yet to hear about how lonely they feel most of the time breaks my heart. Most people move to New York to pursue one dream or another. There is a reason you come here, usually it’s not just to spend all your savings for fun.
I was spending time with one of my best friends at home recently. She happens to be about 10 (give or take a few) years older than me. She has one of the most beautiful and God glorifying marriages I have ever seen. One I dream about having something like someday. We were talking about me coming home to suburban life where it feels like so many are getting engaged – polar opposite from the city of New York. She sincerely asked me if I felt lonely. I explained how of course there are some nights when I do or I start comparing my life to those around me. That is usually what leads to the feeling of loneliness quickest. But when I face the truth it’s more the fear of loneliness. I said something like, not really but I have this fear that I’ll never get married and be lonely. She became completely honest with me and went on to telling me that the loneliest season she has ever experienced in her life happened when she was married. She said, “Marriage is wonderful do not get me wrong. But you marry another human. You can’t place those expectations on them.”
I’m not married, so I can only take others’ word on it not being able to turn off loneliness. I am however chasing after a long-time-in-the-making dream, and sometimes I find myself searching for belonging in that. But it only fills the desire temporarily. I can sometimes find myself searching for belonging in friendships. But I look back to seasons of my life where I remember feeling lonely, and some of those seasons happened when I lived in close corners to almost all of my best friends. It is all becoming so clear to me that loneliness can, and often does, happen when you are around people. This whole concept makes the world stop and stumble with frustration. We’ve tried it all. We search for the cure to loneliness in relationships, in going after our dreams, in friendships. These things are good, but they don’t seem to take the loneliness we sometimes feel away.
Well here is the truth I am learning all over again, and I want to share with you. We were not designed to be fulfilled by this world. The loneliness we so often feel is more than a feeling, it is a longing that has been placed inside us all. And in fact, the Lord placed it there. He wants us to fully see, and experience, that nothing other than Him will fill that emptiness. Not another human, not a reached goal or dream, not a lot of friends or popularity…. Nothing will completely take away the loneliness. Besides Jesus Himself. He created the soul, and therefore He knows how to satisfy it.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.. – Psalm 145:16
Jordan Lee who writes Soul Scripts has said, “I’m a firm believer that the condition of loneliness has very little to do with a relationship status. But everything to do with God calling us to be alone with Him.”
And not only will we be satisfied by being with Him (as if that’s not enough), but our hearts will “flow rivers of living water”- John 7:38