This is a topic that I have wanted to write for a long time, but not too sure how. I wrote this partly as a continuation from the previous 'Communities of God' post, and partly also as something that is really close to my heart. The issue of loneliness is something that plagues everyone at different points of time in our lives and walk with God. I make a disclaimer that what I post here are mostly, if not all, from my own personal experience, thoughts and emotions. Hopefully, through my stories, you will become more exposed to and aware of your own loneliness, whether it was in the past, now or in the future. (That's why this post is so incredibly long. There are lots of stories!)
Is Loneliness inevitable?
- Father: Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
- Jesus: Matthew 28:20b NIV - And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
- Holy Spirit: 2 Timothy 1:14b NIV - ...Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Also, in 1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV - Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?
I want to add also that communities are possible sources of loneliness. However, at times it is not possible to remove avoidable loneliness from our lives FIRST because part of the issue lies with us - the lonely people. Perhaps its our doubts about God that causes us to not see things the way our community does. Perhaps its our worldview or brokenness that causes us to doubt our communities' love for us. Perhaps.... In such cases, then loneliness is a result of our pain, not a cause. The only way to remove loneliness then is to overcome the initial issue.
Negative Consequences of Avoidable Loneliness:
Another underestimated effects of avoidable loneliness is the feeling of being orphaned. While unavoidable loneliness draws us closer to seek God as we pursue Him and His purpose, avoidable loneliness puts a lie in our hearts, that God doesn't care enough about us to give us people who can understand and support us, or that God simply wants us to be lonely for the rest of our lives - we are orphaned and unwanted. For a good 2 years of my life in the current ministry, that's exactly what I felt, and not only was it crushing, it made me feel that I could never go very far in serving God, and even when I'm making significant impact, I could not fully rejoice nor be certain of my impact because I could not share my joys with others - their hearts were never connected to mine. For some of you in similar situation, you may find ways, either willingly or felt forced to in your heart, to be emotionally dependent on people, which may lead you closer to or further away from God, the latter being the more probable scenario. Because we are often desperate to not feel the pain of loneliness, we may simply entrust our hearts to other people regardless of whether they are worthy or not, whether appropriate or not, such as having romantic relationship when you're not ready to and with people you don't think is suitable. My counsel for you if you're in a state of dependence is that you need not stop being emotionally dependent on people (because it's almost impossible to suddenly stop), but instead to 1) choose the right person, who loves you and will lead you closer to God and 2) set limits on your dependence - do not do things just to get 'more affection/time/attention' from the person to satisfy your loneliness and 3) slowly but surely grow in terms of transferring your dependence from the person onto God.
Dealing with Avoidable Loneliness
If you're considering leaving your current church community to go to another church elsewhere, I recommend you read my previous post on 'Communities of God', whereby I wrote a part on what are some considerations you should have before making your decision.
Loneliness as Strength
Matthew 7:7-8 NIV "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks,the door will be opened. "
1 Peter 5:8-9 "Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour, Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.