Ever experience a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out)? That sinking in your gut where you check Instagram or SnapChat and realize, like, everyone around you is having a second baby, or adventuring on other continents, or announcing their engagement? Or even just catching a gorgeous sunset or meeting a friend for coffee? “Why wasn’t I invited to coffee? I don’t even like coffee, but I still love going to coffee shops. I didn’t make plans and I was okay with that, but now I see other people doing things. Hey, look at me, over here! Invite ME! Include ME!” Does that voice sound familiar? And the voice continues, either disparaging others or haphazardly trying to put together flimsy excuses with a dash of self-indulgence. A recipe for brokenheartedness and disappointment that bakes at 350º into distance from others and, more importantly, distance from God.
If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. James 3:14-15 ESV
We all feel lonely at times; it’s part of the human condition. But as Christians, it’s wholly unnecessary to tuck our tails or hang our heads, because we are beyond loved by our Creator.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 NIV
Let’s start with what makes us feel lonely: Rejection? Being unchosen? Feeling unloved? Feeling underappreciated? These are all emotions we each have experienced at one point or another. But what makes them hurt so badly? Often I find that the pain I experience from perceived rejection comes from my own insecurities conveniently being spoken through someone else’s mouth.
So it’s the other person’s fault, right?
Not so fast. My insecurities are mine. Unless someone else is purposefully trying to get under my skin or being mean, I am solely responsible for my hurts. Sometimes that responsibility comes in the form of swallowing my pride or nudging away my hurting to still love and bless others. Sometimes that means cutting and pruning relationships where the other person seems to be a constant source of pain for those insecurities, but only after some heart to heart time where I’ve opened up and they either A) aren’t capable of/willing to understand or B) completely shut down to a discussion. God brings people into your life for a reason, and often that reason is only meant for a season.
Knowing that, as God’s beloved, our relationships with others are supposed to bring us closer to Him, we can experience these lonely feelings without letting the hurt dictate our actions. You can’t help how you feel, but you can choose how to use those feelings. And after the initial shock, pain, or disappointment, we can redirect those feelings into the pursuit of God and the pursuing of Godly relationships with others. Each relationship brought to us is an opportunity to bless and a lesson (or several!) to learn.
So…what do I do with loneliness?
Great question, friend. Every person is a little different on how they like to do it, but some tried-and-true methods are:
- Power Off – get off social media and unplug, we’re focusing on us right now, not anyone else
- Read Some Scripture – Psalms 34 is a good place to start
- Pray and Praise – give thanks for what is going well and check in with the Spirit
- Be Productive or Do Something Fun – eat cookie dough then go lift weights because why not and endorphins and stuff
It is empowering to know that we don’t need permission from anyone else to get rid of the feelings of loneliness. No one’s acceptance or rejection can add or subtract from whom God created us to be. If we draw closer to Him, He draws closer to us (James 4:8). And knowing that we have a seat at the table of the Almighty who created mountains and stars and deer and seas and storms and flowers and you and me, how could anyone else’s invitation compare?
You are loved.
All photos by Back to Grasics. Quotes from Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst.