Healthy Habits

Lonely Together

“Lonely and left out might feel wrong, but it is not a flaw.” by Robin Melvin

Ever sit in a room full of people and feel utterly alone? There’s this awkwardness as if you just don’t fit.

Current research indicates that loneliness and the sense that one just doesn’t “fit in” is a widespread and rising problem, especially among the younger generations. About 72% of the population report struggling with it. Isn’t it rather concerning that almost three-quarters of us feel isolated, despite the burgeoning reality of social media and increased access to news and information? It empowers us to change the way we think.

Loneliness is not a flaw, my friend. It’s an unfulfilled longing. What feels like a gaping hole gouged into our soul is a sacred spot made for God. We are created to connect with Him. Every single one of us is wired with this desire. Knowing we are loved, valued and part of something bigger than ourselves is vital to our well-being. 

Lonely and left out feels wrong and drips with shame, but it is a healthy cue, like hunger and thirst. It’s not a bad problem but a good problem. When hungry, we eat. When thirsty, we drink. When lonely, we pause. Instead of dwelling on what we think is wrong with us, we can pay attention to what’s right with us. Reminded of our utter need for God, we breathe and pray, “Jesus, You in me. All I need.” 

So, end of problem, all fixed up, right? Nope. The tricky part is we also need people. Sometimes a little too much. To expect others to meet our deepest need for connectedness is unfair and unrealistic. They simply cannot do it. It’s God’s job. The one who created every squiggly strand of our DNA says we are loved beyond measure, treasured beyond understanding. 

Though we enjoy the gifts—these people who walk beside us through this messy, beautiful life—they will never fill the space created for Him. While we know this, it sometimes takes a while for truth to trickle from our head to our heart. When we stop expecting more, we give grace. We let people be human. Fickle, fragile and forgetful, like us. 

In a weird way, loneliness connects us. Our shared human experience creates a bond of unity. There is beauty in being lonely together. We hunger for more peace, more purpose, more connection with God and others.

So, what do we do with this empty ache? I’m learning to sit with it. To not rush past and fill myself with TV, Facebook and potato chips. I know it’s counterintuitive to be still and listen to it. This sacred place throbs with human grief, rejection and gut-twisting pain. But we are safe and we are brave. 

When we pause to feel and pray, we create space for deeper healing. We connect with our Comforter. And, oh my friend, what a gift. In that spirit-to-Spirit relationship, we live and move and breathe. That’s where miracles happen. That’s when problems become good. Letting go moves our thoughts from our pain to purpose. When we see we aren’t the only lonely, we can comfort others. We make meaningful connections and sitting in a crowd is a little less awkward.

As Major Lori Miller says, “What has been so profoundly revealed to me in this season of life is that loneliness and invisibility in proper perspective drive us to our Creator. He is the only one who can meet us in complete intimacy, knowing us fully and loving us perfectly.”

The next time you feel it, remember there is nothing wrong with you. Truth is, there’s something very right about you. You are in tune with exactly what you need to live the abundant life Jesus offers. 

But, we still aren’t done, my friend. As long as we live this side of heaven, there’s some lonely we learn to accept. We are like my kids when my husband was deployed to Iraq. Their desire to be with Daddy was strong. They missed him every day until he came home. Then their empty was gone. Filled up. Just like that. 

When we connect with God here, we get bits of heaven. But, we are made for so much more. When we see our Father, face-to-face, we will be complete in His presence forever. Every unmet need every painful place, every empty space, filled. Just like that.

Until then, my friend, may our lonely moments make our absolute need absolutely clear. Connection with our Creator. Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  

Robin Melvin lives in Modena, IL.