With the current state of our world, it is becoming more common to feel lonely and isolated. In fact, in 2019, three in five or 61% of Americans expressed feeling lonely and this was before the 2020 global pandemic. I would have been apart of this 61%.
Loneliness was a huge struggle of mine for years, and only recently did I finally overcome the heaviness and lies of loneliness.
Growing up, being shy made me an easy target for feeling isolated. Even with my family, I wouldn't completely be myself and would stay reserved. When we'd all be around our family-friends, I would feel very uncomfortable and retreat to my little corner alone, because everyone but me was extremely extroverted. They could all converse easily among themselves, and I often couldn't even put a simple sentence together.
After it being this way at every gathering, I finally gave up trying to converse with others because it was too much of a struggle. Every once in a while, I would try to have a conversation with someone but it would hardly ever go well. I would become disappointed in myself and crawl back into my shell. This went on for years until I moved away from home.
I don't really know what it was about the place I moved, but I began to open up and over some time became the opposite of shy. I was extroverted to the point of being annoying. After another year, I moved again, and this new place is where I truly found my best friend Jesus, as cheesy as it sounds. I learned to lose the taxing loneliness and enjoy His presence.
Acknowledge how You're Feeling
It was a process for my stubborn self to let go of my loneliness. Are you surprised? Often, we get so comfortable in our little corners that when someone calls us out of it, we resist. It took a few months for me to genuinely purge the feeling of loneliness from my life.
To overcome this, I first had to recognize I was feeling alone and it wasn't a good sort of lonely. I acknowledged this weight stemmed from somewhere but I went to the Lord in prayer to discover where and why it began. That was the easy part for me, but then came the more difficult challenges. I had to learn how to walk in freedom from loneliness.
Walk IN Freedom, God Is With You
This process was far from easy and many times I thought about giving up, but then a friend would come and share words of wisdom from God to me. I would stand up ready to fight again.
One such instance was at a night of worship I had gone to with one of my friends. We had been there for awhile when she came up to me and said, "You don't have to feel alone because God is always with you." That was all I needed. It was a huge encouragement for me, so I continued to persevere.
I also remember one specific day that was a huge step forward for me. Some of my classmates and others that I didn't know so well were hanging out. They were singing and playing instruments, which is something I'm not very good at. I sat at a distance the whole time while they had fun together and never inserted myself into their fun but I recognized I was at peace. I was able to observe them without feeling left out because I didn't participate.
Participate Past Your Fears
Another part of overcoming your loneliness is being able to socialize and participate in activities going on around you. After I conquered the feeling of isolation, I felt like God was telling me it's time to start participating in the things going on around me and not solely be okay with being the bystander. This was also very difficult for me because I'm not the kind of person to put myself out there.
I don't have any specific examples for this, but I know there were a lot of times when I felt uncomfortable at first when participating but after choosing to be bold and join in, I would enjoy myself. I've learned from trial and error how to be confident in my ability to face-to-face socialize with others and how to not feel pressured to have a conversation. I definitely favor being around people more!
Living in today's technologically advanced world doesn't make feeling alone any easier. Whether you're young or old, most of us now struggle with living in a society where we are pressured to be more connected than we ever have been, yet we're the most disconnected we've ever been at the same time.
Some ways that people try to fill the void of loneliness are by constantly scrolling on their phones, portraying happiness on social media, succumbing to peer pressure, being the life of the party, and jumping from one relationship to another. The world uses all these avenues, and many more as ways to fill the void of empty loneliness they feel and yet, none of these successfully work long term.
The only way to conquer the oppressive feeling is by filling it with a true friendship and love for Jesus, a daily walk and talk with the Lord. Becoming friends with the one who understands all you're going through and all you are, will never leave you.
"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And to him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15
I don't know how you struggle with loneliness or what you do to combat it, but I can promise you how I overcame loneliness can work. I am the proof of that.
I promise if you put your mind to freedom, and build a relationship with our Heavenly Father, you will have the knowledge and confidence you need to fight. Feeling lonely doesn't necessarily mean you are alone!
When you start to conquer your loneliness, you may recognize yourself becoming more confident in who God's crafting you to be, not needing to perform for others including social media, and being joyful because you can't help but be joyful. But most importantly, the void that comes with loneliness will be filled with your best friend's constant presence.
"Whether you turn to the right or left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'."
Learn how to walk in the freedom God desires for you. Grow closer to Him than you've ever been. Discover His plans and purposes for your life in the next Discipleship Training School. You'll be glad you did.
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