Have you ever been surrounded by people, yet you felt left out, different, like something was wrong with you? You know, that uncomfortable feeling you might get when you walk into a room full of people and you don’t know a single person but you really wish you did?
Loneliness. It’s a universal feeling. At one time or another every person on Earth has felt its sting. We’ve all struggled with this sense that we don’t matter. We can even feel pretty isolated and lonely even when we’re not physically alone. Ever wonder why?
Loneliness speaks to our deepest desire to be connected to other people. Yet, many of us are afraid of connecting with others. We’ve been burned, hurt and rejected at one time or another. And at some point in our lives, we’ve been convinced that no one wants to get to know us or enter into relationship with us. So we stay isolated, lonely and hurting.
If you can relate to any of this, I have some good news.
First, God cares about our loneliness. From the beginning, God knew of our need for connectedness. When God created Adam he placed him in the perfect environment, and gave him direct access to Him. But God knew this wasn’t enough. He knew Adam’s deepest desires, so he created Eve, a helper — one who would complete him and provide Him with real companionship (Gen 2:18).
Second, Jesus understands our loneliness. Jesus, who was both fully God and fully man, experienced all of the feelings, temptations and hardships that we do on this earth. So we can take comfort knowing He understands firsthand what it’s like to be lonely too. When he was hanging on the cross bearing our sins, the Father turned away and for a brief but excruciatingly painful moment Jesus experienced true abandonment (Mark 13:34). He died on the cross so we would never have to experience the ultimate pain of rejection.
Third, we don’t have to experience loneliness and isolation any longer because God has already provided a way to fulfill our deepest desires – and He does it through relationships – starting with Himself and then with others.
Jesus loves us just the way we are and invites us to have a relationship with Him. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:28-29) Jesus invites us to go through this life with Him. He wants to help us carry our burdens and fulfill the deepest desires in our hearts.
Now some of you might be wondering: “Ok, but what if I’ve started a relationship with Christ and I know that I belong to God’s family, but I still don’t feel connected? How do I begin to experience authentic love and real connection in the body of Christ?”
To break out of our loneliness and isolation, we must begin by re-thinking our view of the church and revising our approach to relationships. Next, we must become participating members of the church.
This means taking a several steps forward:
- Realize your need. It’s our pride that keeps us believing that we don’t need other people. Attachment is essential. Life was made for relationships. It can’t even be just you and God.
- Move toward others. It might seem intimidating, but most people are struggling as you are – they don’t have it together. They need you to make the first move.
- Be vulnerable. I’ve learned that people who act or look like they have it all together really don’t. When someone peels the mask off, it’s attractive because we all know that none of us have it all together.
- Change your thinking. Challenge those “old tapes” that play negative thoughts in your head.
- Take risks – Step out, join a group, and reach out to someone.
- Be empathetic – Identify with others’ hurts and become other-centered. I have never found a great listener who doesn’t have tons of friends.
- Pray – Pray, pray, pray. Trust God.
This week, we’re starting a powerful series called Breaking Through Life’s Biggest Barriers. In it, we will address the major roadblocks of this life head on – everything from boredom and loneliness, to low self-esteem and that sense of futility that keeps so many of us from growing spiritually. It’s my prayer that through this series, you’ll learn how to move beyond what’s holding your back so that you can grow with Christ and serve Him with an even greater passion.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge