When I was 13 years old, my parents decided to move to the other side of town. What that meant for me was leaving all my friends and transferring to a new school. At such an awkward and insecure season of my life, such a change was devastating. For the first couple of months, I spoke to no one but the teachers, and lunch time was spent sitting alone in the cafeteria. In junior high, to be by yourself during lunch is the equivalent to holding up a huge sign that says “Unpopular. Stay Away.”
My story is not uncommon. Many have gone through periods of loneliness during the adolescent years, but it doesn’t necessarily get easier to deal with as an adult. You can even have a good amount of friends, but in the middle of a crowd of familiar people, you can still feel very alone.
“No one talks to me.”
I know this might be a tough pill to swallow, but often we are lonely because we stay alone. For introverts, it can be hard to initiate the conversation. (Believe, I know. I’m an introvert, who is constantly praying for God to give me courage to talk to others.) Start with a “Hello” but don’t stop there. Have some good conversation starters in mind, like “What do you like to do for fun?” or “What are your favorite foods?” or “Tell me about your kids.” Most people are more than happy to talk to someone who is willing to listen.
“No one is in my stage of life.”
I remember feeling lonely when all my friends were getting married, and I longed to wear my own wedding dress rather than another bridesmaid dress. This loneliness can also set in when all your BFF’s are proudly showing their baby bumps, while you are waiting each month for that positive pregnancy test. Or, you’re figuring out how to juggle all the responsibilities as a single mom, while your married friends can always get help from their husbands.
The fact that we don’t all have the same experiences presents us with a unique opportunity to serve one another. A young woman with no kids can offer babysitting services to a single mom. A married woman can invite younger women for some cooking lessons. A single mom can organize a play date at the park to give other moms a chance to hang out together. In other words, stop focusing on yourself and figure out a way to help someone else. You will find that this mindset will begin to break the chains of loneliness.
“No one understands what I’m going through.”
Are you going through a really difficult trial and you feel like no one can really relate? That’s how I’ve felt, having to deal with the challenges of raising a child with special needs. And maybe your friends really can’t completely understand what it’s like to be in your shoes, but we ought not to fault them for that. And the more that you remain closed up, the less they are able to understand. Often, we are looking for someone who can empathize with us when we should be glad there are people who are willing to sympathize.
It is not easy to step out of the prison of loneliness. However, once you realize that the door is unlocked (and has always been so), you can take the first step outside of that cell. And remember this … even in your loneliest time, you are never really alone. God is there. Go to Him!
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4)
What is your advice for someone who is struggling with loneliness?
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