Have you experienced loneliness in this Coronavirus season? I have.
Loneliness is one of those emotions we don’t want to experience. In one sense it can drive us into despair and make it hard to engage with anyone. Have you ever experienced the desire to not be seen by anyone? The hit song titled “Me, Myself and I” by Beyoncé expressed this very sentiment. The hurt brought on by an unfaithful partner and seemingly irrational behaviors that often accompany it, can make anyone want distance between themselves and others. Most people don’t want to be seen in such a vulnerable state.
On the other hand, loneliness can also make us a little overly interested in the attention of others. Have you ever seen someone you could just tell was desperate for attention? Both of these responses to our loneliness are a form of escape, and they keep us from dealing with the inner longing we each have to be fully known and fully loved.
In this season of working from home, a place where nobody sees what I’m doing, I’m noticing that my work sometimes feels meaningless. It can feel incredibly empty. A day comes and it goes and each day I slowly check off my to-do list. But as I find myself about 8 weeks into this shelter-in-place season, this practice of “responsibility” is no longer producing the sense of accomplishment it used too. It’s beginning to feel like a hamster wheel, and though I wouldn’t have first described it like this, it’s a lonely place. A place where a motivation of my heart to win the approval of others is being shown to me. Because I can’t readily win the approval of others, my work can feel empty. I would have never seen this, if we weren’t sheltering in place.
There is no quick fix to the pains in our inner being. Jesus doesn’t look back at us and shout, “Hurry up! What’s taking so long?”But rather, He takes us by the hand and invites us to follow Him, but at a pace intentionally designed for us. He invites us to own our weaknesses, acknowledge them and allow His grace to close the gap.
Even though loneliness is one of those emotions I’m more prone to run away from, rather than patiently process, I’ve come to understand it as a gift. You might ask, “How is it a gift?” I learned this from Chip Dodd’s book, “The Voice of the Heart,” loneliness is what helps us to identify that we need sincere friendship. Without loneliness we can’t have awareness of our need for deep friendship. It is the very act of acknowledging our loneliness that will enable us to move toward the depth of relationship we need with God and others.
I’m married and even having someone as close to me as my wife, I still experience loneliness. She’s nearby practically at any moment, and although she knows me better than anyone else, there are some areas she just can’t understand. And that goes both ways. But there is one who can. God has sent His Spirit to be a friend to those who are His, and He always understands. You need compassion, He’s got you. You need affirmation, He’s got you. You need correction, He’s got you. You need ________ (you fill in the blank), He’s got you. He longs to be a good friend to every one of us who would ask for it.
I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth.john 14:16 (the message)
As we walk in friendship with Him, He’ll help us to see how we are to follow Him. He will guide us into the truth of how we are to live. He will affirm God’s love in us, empowering us to trust and obey our Heavenly Father. And we’ll be refreshed to know that we are fully known, and fully loved.
Are you experiencing emotions that you can’t explain? Does something feel broken on the inside? Do you need help understanding what’s going on inside of you? Then you need to allow the Holy Spirit to be a good friend to you. Ask Jesus to reveal what’s happening and then open up to someone you trust who can help you process. Then watch Him move you into the very intimacy your loneliness is inviting you to pursue.