Blessings of singleness #1: Loneliness
Loneliness isn’t unique to singleness. I can’t imagine the very painful loneliness of living with an emotionally absent husband or going to sleep alone after losing a spouse.
Loneliness is the strangest sensation. It is physical and emotional and I don’t quite no what to do with it. And I know it won’t kill me but when I’m experiencing it, it seems strangely unbearable. I feel that if I can’t fix it – if I can’t make it go away – I’ll die.
For me, loneliness is rooted in the pain of never feeling truly known; not having anyone who shares my deepest fears, dreams or longings. And the fraudulent reality that singles sometimes believe is that no one has even attempted to know us. We feel alone in decisions. We feel alone in our fears. We feel alone in our dreams. The weird thing about singleness is that no one is supposed to know us in the deepest ways. I am in a season of life where God has declared that no mortal being will know me intimately. And that’s lonely.
The pain of loneliness is such a gift. Like all pain, it lets us know that something somewhere isn’t quite right. My loneliness reminds me that this world is unsatisfying and insufficient. It’s a signpost that prompts me to seek help outside of myself.
Each jab of loneliness tests my heart: do I believe in the ‘enoughness’ of God? Will I believe in what He says even when life seems to testify otherwise? He says I have everything I need. He says He will satisfy the longing heart. And each twinge of pain provides a reminder to cast my gaze heavenward and to refuse to be comforted by anything but Him.
Without loneliness, I would never persevere. I am too easily satisfied. Given the choice, I would settle for any companionship that would offer me a momentary sedative for loneliness. And in His great kindness, the Lord has not provided that for me. On a Friday night, alone in my apartment, when I feel like no one even knows I’m alive, there is no hope of freedom from the loneliness except the goodness of God and the truth of the gospel. I have no where else to turn. I am forced to deal with God. His promises become my only hope.
There are ways to waste your loneliness. You will waste your loneliness if you let it feed a desire for mere mortals instead of the Almighty. Our loneliness is not designed to teach us to long for a spouse. A spouse or singleness, companionship or loneliness – they are all designed to teach us to long for God.
You will waste your loneliness if you allow it to lead you to doubt the promises and the goodness of God. The primary blessing of loneliness is that it teaches you to yearn for God in a deep way and it can be used by the Spirit to increase and fuel our faith so that we might believe that He is our only joy.
You will waste your loneliness if you try to shove things into the God shaped hole inside of you and become embittered when they fail to satisfy a need they were never made to fill. Or if you become frustrated with God that He hasn’t provided idols for you to turn to instead of Him. There is someone who knows us deeply. There is someone who pursues us intimately and always. Loneliness doesn’t happen because Jesus is not enough. Loneliness happens because we don’t have enough of Christ. The crossroads we arrive at when the pain sets in forces us to see what we really believe. Will we trust that He is our treasure and reach and beg for more of Him? Or, will we trade Him for a more tangible, but more pathetic treasure?
Press into your loneliness and allow it to remind you that you are not home here. He promises to satisfy the longing heart and fill the hungry mouth with good things. Don’t let your loneliness ever be quenched with something this side of Heaven. Learn to long with a Holy discontentment. Our God is the God of the hungry and the thirsty. By His grace I will stay in that category. God forbid I ever get full and fat on the gifts He gives.
Whatever your stage of life – be encouraged when you experience loneliness. Press into it. Learn not to look to your spouse or friends to make this feeling go away – but instead let the pain instruct you to long for what is not yet seen.
Yearn for the only one who will ever fully know you and love you unfailingly & faithfully. There is only One. His name is Jesus. He alone can satisfy the longing heart. Let your loneliness lead you to long for Him.