Loneliness Affects You
So many people struggle with this human condition. It affects everyone, from individuals who have no one to count on, to those who have suffered a terrible loss, to those who have been mistreated. However, loneliness also affects people who have a life partner, a dear friend, or a group they’ve been welcomed into. The condition of loneliness grabs hold of all hearts at some time or other.
Loneliness seems to have mushroomed during this pandemic. From the initial lock-downs to continued social distancing. Even just “masking” seems to interfere with connecting. It’s as if we can’t really “see” one another.
Loneliness Is Common
Loneliness is common to all people, married or not, young or old, scientist or artist, medical provider or patient, career professional or home-maker, student or teacher, company president or line-worker. It’s an experience that gnaws at every heart.
Because loneliness is so common, you are in the normal group as you deal with it. Loneliness doesn’t ask permission to land. It simply steals into your heart, invades your well-being, and even threatens hope. The hungry ache of loneliness eats up joy and is a common human condition.
What Is Loneliness?
There are lots of human reasons for loneliness. Books have been written on the subject. We aren’t going to cover human reasons today. They are important, of course. Yet, let’s explore root conditions underneath loneliness.
As people seek meaningful existence, they yearn for deeper, richer relationships. Still, even with good friends/associates/family relationships in place, a person can still feel pangs of loneliness! Lonely people can wonder where their peace disappeared. How they ended up in emotional displacement. Or they ponder what is wrong with them. Even when things are going well, the invasion of loneliness can be a surprise.
That need – that drive – for deeper, meaningful intimacy is one of the greatest struggles of life. I’m going to boldly say the underlying element of loneliness is the human spirit crying out for more of God.
Loneliness Requires A Response
You can learn to manage loneliness effectively, or you can deny it’s existence and escape toward anything that might curb the hungry ache. To address loneliness, you need to take thoughtful action.
If you draw near God (a faith thing), loneliness can morph into comfort. Scripture says, “deep calls to deep.” (Ps. 42:7) Do you hear it? God is calling to your deepest person. And your deep – your full essence – is yearning to be satisfied inside your Creator’s deep. This is real.
At this root, under ground where no one can see, God meets the deepest needs of your heart, if you let Him. A tree rises from this root and requires nurture. Practicing a balanced lifestyle, investing in good relationships, working to be the best “you” possible, and staying actively involved – those are examples of things that can nurture you even with loneliness present. However, the game-changer starts underground, alone with God, where only He sees. This unseen place (your deep) is where you are established. When you invite (by faith) God’s deep into your deep, this becomes your safe place.
Since loneliness comes to all people, engage creative ideas to help manage it. Some are listed below.
It’s also good to have action plans to stay on top of your loneliness on a regular basis. Some example plan templates you can build on are explained below the creative ideas.
Creative ideas and strategic plans enhance your level of success. Ideas help you at a practical level. Strategic plans define action steps that empower you to courageously find good in your life – if you are looking for it. Plans also give you a starting point – if you are willing to grow up from your underground root. Having a plan also feeds creativity – if you are willing to put some energy into being creative.
Creative Ideas to Help Manage Loneliness
These are few examples of creative ideas:
- Critical time alone each day with God helps. Get in His Word. Talk to Him about your loneliness. He loves you and cares that you feel alone. His desire is to reach into your deep with His deep to satisfy your soul.
- Scheduling regular fun activities. Doing something fun helps lift your spirit.
- Positive conversations with supportive friends/family nurture you at your root – underground.
- Travel, explore, visit. See the world above ground where your life tree rises up and spreads out from your roots.
- Enjoy special moments (alone or with another person). Create them. Be intentional.
- Remember blessings of past seasons with gratitude instead of pining for what is past.
- Reach out to someone who might be lonely. The shade of your tree rising up may be exactly what they need.
- Connect with quality people in history by reading their story. Their tree shares the same skies as your tree.
- Make something in your kitchen or workshop – and then share with someone else. Blossom and add beauty to the landscape.
- Soak in the sun and remember to soak in God’s “Sonshine.” Trees must have the sun. Your life tree needs the sun and the Son.
- Express your “deep” through writing, art, music. Creatively communicate about managing loneliness.
You can manage loneliness. Why not be invested in your personal growth?
Action Plan Options to Build Your Own Plan
Here are three simple plans with ideas to build on. Use them to develop your own plan.
Action Plan 1 – Time ALONE With Yourself
“It is what I do in my solitude that makes me fit for company.” (C. S. Lewis.)
Sometimes loneliness is because you are disconnected with yourself. Schedule time to reconnect with the person God created you to be by reconnecting with God. Loneliness is often stronger when you are very tired or personal resources are depleted. You need renewal.
Getting away by yourself seems anti-productive when addressing loneliness. It can actually help manage loneliness. Re-connect with who God created you. Dedicate your time alone to just “be” with Jesus. He is the only One who renews you at your root. Then re-enter daily life with a heart that’s re-booted.
Here are ideas of things to do alone with God. Add your own:
- Journaling – integrate the truth of Scripture with your feelings.
- Reading a good book.
- Enjoying activities special to you.
- Praying – intentionality reaching back to God.
- Sleeping – address your fatigue.
- Listing your strengths and skill sets. This helps you get back in touch with the person God created.
- Watching a good movie. (Popcorn, anyone?)
- Taking time to write (or re-write) goals and objectives to re-center yourself.
- Listing creative things to do, going forward, for a balanced lifestyle.
Let yourself enjoy God as you enjoy the activities. Enjoy this “underground safe place” at your root.
Action Plan 2 – Time TOGETHER With a Trusted Friend
Just as spending time alone can help address loneliness, scheduling time with someone you trust – a kindred spirit – can help. If you don’t have someone like that, start by asking God for that kind of friend. Then be patient as He answers.
Outings with a good friend need more planning than time with yourself since you are dealing with several schedules. Start to:
- Calendar together.
- Develop a flexible game plan. (You are involving several, even family, schedules. So be flexible.)
- Gradually put practical pieces in place (what, when, where, how) to make your plan a reality.
- Remember this planning takes time and thought. Interact back and forth as you put your plan in place.
To be purposeful about your time with your friend, agree on a loose, flexible agenda of activities. Plan things you both enjoy. Relax together. Have a nice dinner out. In all your activities and conversations, work together to focus on God’s work in your lives. Enjoy laughing. Cry together, if needed. Share Scriptures together. Practice gratitude and cheer together. You’ll be amazed what God does through this fellowship!
Reminder About Health Safety Using This Plan
(Follow health safety during our battle against covid-19. Be patient just a bit longer. We’re closing in on normal. You may need to mask, social distance, or be outside for now. Many people are “going outdoors” to be together. You may choose “Time From A Distance” – email, zoom, texting, phone, skype, etc. Choose an option for now to be with someone else. . . and plan for closer, normal contact in the near future. And we’re trusting God for that.)
Action Plan 3 – DAILY Action Plan
You need a daily action plan at your root to address loneliness, especially if it plagues you often.
Fast-paced lives make it difficult to get away. On the practical level, you need a plan to address daily loneliness. Here are some ideas to help manage and be nurtured on a regular basis. Add your own.
- Live “in the moment.” Milk it of every enjoyable thing you can. So be present and alert.
- Pray for yourself, for others, for issues. Jesus did. Do this each day. Focus on the bigger picture.
- Jesus offers friendship to you. Take Him up on this offer. Remember – He knew loneliness on earth. Include Him. He can counsel you.
- Make positive memories even in sorrow. This sculpts healthy thought habits as your default, even going through terrible loss.
- Keep perspective using God’s Word. This waters your heart. Water your root with Scripture every day.
- Intentionally reach back to God each moment. Expect Him to connect with you. It’s a faith thing.
- Praise God. Practice cheer. If you are in sorrow, weave sincere praise into your grief with passionate sincerity. Believer me, this works, and it helps you heal. Life is still full of good things even during suffering. This faith gives God highest honor.
- Share (email, text, phone, zoom) with a trusted friend. Maybe not every day, but maybe once a week or every-other-week. Start with Jesus (instant zoom in your heart). Do this in all your daily details.
- Journal about lonely moments. Be positive and honest. See if there is a theme. Weave truth and promises from Scripture into your written thoughts. Call out any lies/deceptions and dismiss them.
So those are ideas you can incorporate into your daily schedule.
Applications to Manage Loneliness
When you work to identify your needs, and set up good action plans, you build healthy responses to loneliness. Use Plan 1, Plan 2, and/or Plan 3 to build on so you can be healthy as you manage your loneliness. Let your deep respond to God’s deep.
Much of this post is an excerpt from Reach Back: Intentionally Reaching Back to God. It explores many topics common to Jesus followers. This book is my most “order another copy” publication as people go through it again or pass it on to others.
Reach Back can be used for your own personal study, with a friend, or in a group. Perhaps it can be a resource you use in your plan to manage loneliness.
To order Reach Back.