The Sickness Called Loneliness: A Secondary Feeling

Have you ever felt lonely? Ha, that was a loaded question. At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt lonely in one way or another.

At the beginning of this academic school year, I bought a Bible study group discussion set called “Univited” by Lysa Terkeurst. My reasoning for buying this entire set [complete with book, DVD and discussion guide] was due to the newest development in my on-going identity crisis: “What small group does a young widow join after losing a spouse?” If you’re wondering what the answer is, there’s not one…yet. [I may try to work on that in the future.] Anyway, I went through the Bible study for the first time with one of my close friends and her daughter, and per usual with Lysa Terkeurst books, we absolutely loved it! I loved it so much, in fact, I ended up going through it again with my 9th/10th grade cheerleaders (whom I adore), and then again with my family group (basically small groups within our school connecting an individual teacher to small number of students – in my case, an equally amazing group of 11th grade girls).

At the end of our first family group lunch meeting I asked my girls about their thoughts on session 1 of the “Uninvited” DVD, and if any of the main points played a role in their lives. One girl spoke up and began to discuss the points made about loneliness. She disclosed that a major problem consuming her generation was the feeling of being alone often leading to depression. She then went on to say what I’d wager a lot of us think, but may not verbalize. Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but she said something along the lines of: “I know God is around us all the time, and we’re not supposed to feel alone because of that. But sometimes it just feels like He’s not really there, and so it’s sometimes hard to want to spend time with Him because you can’t really have an audible conversation, ya know? And so then it’s even harder to help people overcome these feelings by just saying, ‘well just know that you’re not alone, and God loves you even though you don’t really feel it.'” Well. I have to admit, I was a little less than prepared for that “real talk”, and therefore scored [I’d say] a solid 9.5 on the “I have no idea what I’m talking about” scale. Luckily the lunch bell rang about halfway through my answer, and I was able to quit talking before I revealed I actually don’t know all the answers.

As the girls left the room I couldn’t help but feel a little less than motivational; and while I watched my next class take their seats, I visualized myself unpinning my metaphorical “teacher of the year” badge from my chest and dropping it in the trash. [Yes, I do actually imagine things like this. I blame it on being an only child and being forced to play a childhood of solitary pretend games.] I then began to think back on my last blog post in which I discussed changing our perspectives to see how loneliness and solitude are not the same by definition or connotation; as well as believing God’s promise to work for our good, and thereby justifying a means to an end. But after letting this consume my mind for the rest of the school day, I realized where my missing answer could be found. While the statements listed above are true, they don’t really give direction as to how one begins to both think this way, and also believe it to the point their heart honestly desires it as well. I believe that’s what that sweet 11th grader was really asking, wasn’t it? She wanted to know what it took to make a person’s heart and mind agree to believe they’re not alone. And furthermore, to believe it so much they’re able overcome the heart-griping feelings of loneliness.

I know, right? Those are some pretty heavy questions for just one blog post…You took the words right out of my mouth. Don’t worry. I’m not going to attempt to answer these questions in full detail. I mean really, there have been millions of sermons preached on just a fraction of the topics arising from this conversation. Instead, I’ll do my best to present maybe a stepping stone along this confusing path called life. Continue reading