God's Heart For The Lonely Girl
February is just behind us, and so is Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to reduce yourself to a fraction in the month of February, or really any time of the year. You are one-half of a couple waiting to meet the other half. Valentine’s Day, the day meant to spark and honor romance, sits right in the middle of your calendar, feeling more like a tease than a celebration. If you didn’t have anyone during the month of love, you might find yourself asking things like “Am I incomplete?” or “Is something wrong with me?”
This line of questioning is one that needs to be tackled head-on, and not for just one-twelfth of the year, because these soul-searching questions don’t spring from a mere desire for a date. It’s the twenty-first century. If a woman wants a date, all she has to do is download a dating app and swipe a few times. The world makes that part easy. Yet, this line of questioning is more of a heart-cry of longing and a desire for recognition.
It’s 2019, and I don’t think any other generation has ever been lonelier than ours. It’s the digital age of “liking” but not loving and serving. Our real-life experiences have been replaced by online connections and, because we have been deprived of any kind of authentic relationships, we live in a great isolation than ever before.
It’s enticing to think that this tragic loneliness will dissolve when we’re a part of a couple, but loneliness is the great equalizer of humanity. It is not reserved for single people or for a single month out of the year. It affects the old, young, married and unmarried alike.
The answer to loneliness is not to run away from it, ignore it, or try and stifle it. The first step to dealing with this area of your life is taking time to acknowledge its reality. You can even try saying “I am lonely” out loud! If you say it out loud to yourself, you cannot ignore it. If you cannot ignore it, then you have to confront it. But the beautiful thing is that you do not have to confront loneliness alone. Even as you watch the world passing by, or people coupling up left and right, or you feel like the last one-half in the whole wide world, there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. -Psalm 38:9
If you have Jesus, you cannot and will not be more complete than you are right now. You must wrestle with this, friend. You must not run away from loneliness, because it is in our lonely seasons that our lives become all the richer from knowing Him better. If we deny the presence of loneliness in our lives, we are denying Him an opportunity to show us His grace and mercy.
Elisabeth Elliot once wrote:
“The pain of loneliness is one way in which He wants to get our attention. We may be earnestly desiring to be obedient and holy. But we may be missing the fact that it is here, where we happen to be at this present moment and not in another place or another time, that we may learn to love Him -- here where it seems He is not at work, where He seems obscure or frightening, where He is not doing what we expected Him to do, where He is most absent. Here and nowhere else is the appointed place. If faith does not go to work here, it will not work at all.”
May we see the unique opportunities of loneliness with spiritual eyes! When we feel alone, we must choose to believe that we are not alone, and He will prove Himself faithful.
I was in Mexico earlier this year for a work retreat. I had been feeling down for several weeks and asked for the Lord to show me that He was there with me in Mexico, and I chose to believe that He was. One of the group activities was snorkeling in a cenote, which is one of the world’s longest underground water sources (basically swimming in a great cavern). As I swam through the cenote, I used my waterproof flashlight to explore the depths beneath me and saw that the cavern was far deeper and blacker than I had anticipated -- it went down dozens, if not hundreds, of feet! Psalm 139: 7-10 came to mind:
“Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.”
He hasn’t ever left me, whether I was in a college dorm in Clarksville, Tennessee, a high-rise in Chicago, or a cenote in Mexico. I have been friendless, flat-out rejected by different guys, and I have been the “outcast”. I survived each one of those seasons by leaning on Jesus. I have been so lonely that I have contemplated suicide. I have experienced depression and an eating disorder. On the other side of all of it, I can say that no matter how insurmountable your loneliness feels, HE IS GREATER. Sometimes, it’s a minute-by-minute kind of survival, but it’s okay.
It’s okay to admit you’re lonely (it’s okay to be lonely). It’s okay to desire a Godly relationship or Godly friends if you’re in a season without a nearby support system, but realize loneliness does not define us, and that our story doesn’t end there. In John 16:32-33, Jesus himself encourages you, “Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. -Matthew 28:20
If you can learn to turn to Christ in these dark and vulnerable moments of loneliness, your life will yield richness beyond imagining. Anything rooted in or defined by Him is also protected by Him, and He will never forsake you.
Note: for a helpful and highly practical read on this topic, I recommend Elisabeth Elliot’s book, The Path of Loneliness: Finding Your Way Through the Wilderness to God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In 2018, Payden earned her B.A. in English from Regent University and is now pursuing her M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Oklahoma State University. A roadtrip aficianado, Payden can be found traveling the beautiful U.S. when her nose is not stuck in a textbook. She has a desire to help other women see the freedom and fullness that comes in living a life abandoned to Christ, and wants to spend every waking minute pursuing God's call on her life.