Loneliness is never fun.
Today, I listened to a sermon about loneliness and how many verses in the Bible talk about loneliness. Job, King David, Jeremiah (a prophet), Jesus Himself, Paul (an apostle) all dealt with loneliness.
What I failed to realize is how prevalent loneliness has been throughout my entire life. Before I go any further, I want you to know, I am not writing to complain, but to hopefully encourage others who go through the same things I have.
When I was in kindergarten, I did not know how to play with other kids- and so I had no friends. Today, I understand my problems began before kindergarten, but that isn’t important right now.
I did try to fit in by acting like the other kids, but the only examples I was able to really follow were all the bullies who picked on me. Thus, when I tried to follow the example I saw, I got into trouble- but I never saw other kids get into trouble by doing the same things I did, so I began to see myself as a whipping boy.
So, here I am, 8 years old, not having any friends, figuring that I am the person everyone is supposed to pick on. And this was reinforced by parents of other kids, by my fifth and sixth grade teachers, and others.
Now, when I look back, I see how other kids in the 8th and 9th grades did try to help me, but I was so distrustful of everyone, that I could not see what they were trying to do. I had no reason to trust anyone because so many kids had picked on me and I couldn’t figure out how to fit in.
Anyway, let me fast forward here and skip over the other years.
My Sr. year of high school comes and I actually start forming friendships- as in, meeting with people outside of school. I also finally get a girlfriend (though, because of many bad experiences in the past in telling girls I liked them, I was afraid to even touch her because I didn’t want her mad at me). Needless to say, we never had sex.
Just before college started- and I was looking forward to finally getting drunk and having sex- I realized that getting drunk resulted in a bad headache and forgetting the fun you had the night before. So I no longer wanted to get drunk.
I also remembered all my health classes about the potential dangers of having sex (ie, unwanted pregnancy, STD’s, HIV and so forth).
When I got to college, I started going to church. I found myself drawn to the doctrinally sound, but functionally strange churches… My most recent church experience has also been one of the best.
Why this worked so well for me is because I could slip in-between the strange people. No one really cared too much about my idiosyncrasies. Now, I can’t give them too much credit because I was still too weird for most of them.
But I was finally accepted. And I was able to learn and grow. I watched other people and started to understand how to be more normal. I am still a strange guy, but I am working on it. I also have to admit, many people within many churches are judgmental, so if your church body is among the judgmental, SHAME ON YOU AND YOUR CHURCH. How often did Jesus NOT cast shame upon the outcasts? REPEATEDLY. Jesus ate with the outcasts. He forgave the sinners (think John chapter 8). Anyway, I digress…
Today, I am 35 years old and I have finally understood the fact that I have been alone for most of my life. Sure, I had family. Sure, I had my friends, but I was still mostly alone.
And I am NOT supposed to be alone. YOU are NOT supposed to be alone. Sure, sometimes being alone is a good thing. Due to being around people almost constantly, Jesus needed it so much He went to deserts early in the morning to find solitude! But for most of us, we have too much solitude.
We need to seek out friendship. Find people to be with. God created us to be with people. To spend time with friends. Call someone. Go to a coffeehouse and try to make friends. Or to a park.
If you are a person who has lots of friends, make a new one. If you see someone who looks lonely or sad, say hello to them. Maybe you won’t get their number today, but maybe meet with them every week. Let them know you really care about them. Try to develop a relationship with them.
If right now, you don’t have anyone, spend time with God. Find a Bible and read it. Start with one of the Gospels (Matthew Chapter 11, verses 28-30 is one of my favorites). Click below for a quick peek.
Anyway, I hope that if you are lonely, that you start spending time with other people. And if you are not lonely, that maybe you can reach out to a lonely person.