That’s a common fear that can hold me back from trying new things: I don’t want to do it alone.
As a single person, I do a lot of every day things by myself, from eating meals to grocery shopping to managing my finances.
At times, I’m okay with this, but at other times, I’m not.
Because all this being alone can leave one feeling lonely.
And for me, that’s one of the hardest parts of singleness: navigating the loneliness.
Maybe right now, you’re dealing with loneliness in your singleness, and in the loneliness are feeling unwanted, unsupported, overlooked, and unknown.
But loneliness isn’t a judgement on your worth and wanted-ness. Rather, loneliness is the cry of your heart for the very thing for which you were made: relationship.
Not Good to Be Alone
We are made for relationship. We see this in the very beginning, when God “created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
We were made in the image of a Triune God; a God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect union and communion with one another; a God who by this very three-in-one nature is love.
And so out of His loving nature, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, created us to share in love relationship with Himself.
But He didn’t create us to share in relationship with just Himself.
At the end of Genesis 1, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (v. 31) Then we come to Genesis 2, and we get a more detailed account of God creating man and woman. After God created the man, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (v.18)
Creation wasn’t complete until God had also created woman—another person, yet female and unique from male—to join with the man in relationship, together bearing the image of God, stewarding creation, and discipling future generations.
Notice that God didn’t say, “It isn’t good for man to be unmarried.” It wasn’t specifically unmarried-ness that God said wasn’t good; it was alone-ness.
We experience loneliness because we weren’t meant to be alone. We were created for relationship with God who is Love, and we were also created to reflect and receive that love in relationship with one another.
So if alone-ness isn’t part of God’s design for us, what do we do when we experience loneliness in singleness?
The Invitation of Loneliness
God said it isn’t good to be alone, yet many of us, when we experience loneliness, believe it means we’re not good enough to not be alone. We believe it means we’re unworthy of love, uninvited from the possibility of knowing and being known, and not really belonging anywhere with anyone.
But what if in those times of loneliness, instead of believing we’re unloved, uninvited, and un-belonging, we were to instead see loneliness as an invitation into love and belonging?
And doesn’t loneliness often feel like a desolate wilderness?
Yet in the lonely places, we are invited to lean into the presence of our Father God, who promises to never leave or forsake us.
That’s one of the works of the Holy Spirit: a Comforter who is always with us, affirming that we are God’s children and guaranteeing the promise of one day being face to face with our Lord and Savior, when that relationship for which we were made finds it’s ultimate fulfillment in the wedding feast of the Lamb.
When we are feeling alone, we can find comfort, compassion, and care in this communion with God through His Spirit.
And the thing that’s so ironic about loneliness is that we’re not alone in our feelings of loneliness.
So many of us deal with loneliness, if not all of us in some way.
So what if we were to see our own loneliness as an invitation to reach out to others? To reach out both in encouraging and supporting others, and to reach out in asking for encouragement and support for ourselves.
I know we won’t always get a “Yes” in answer to our invitation; I know it can seem like we’re doing all the reaching without reciprocation; I know it can even feel like there’s not anyone we can reach out to.
But if we truly believe we are made for relationship, we can’t give in to the loneliness and give up on reaching out. It does take time and effort to form encouraging, trustworthy, and supportive relationships, but it is worth it.
And after we acknowledge those longings and emotions, we can examine our hearts for anything that needs tending: are there insecurities holding us back from reaching out? Is there a past hurt we need to heal from so we can trust again? Is there perfectionism telling us we have to handle it all on our own? Are we daunted by the time it takes to form relationships?
Allow the Lord to “search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Let’s be real: forming and deepening relationships is a vulnerable thing.
But our hearts can’t be shared or known if we keep them hidden behind walls. And while yes, vulnerability is a risk, it is also an opportunity to build strong and compassionate relationships.
And His bride is not an individual, but a people: the community of those who have trusted in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. So in this perfect, whole, and complete relationship with God, there will be perfect whole, and complete relationship with each other.
This why we can see loneliness as an invitation to lean in, reach out, hold space, and draw near; an invitation to cultivate relationships. Because as Christ-followers, our friendships, our families, our communities, our churches—all our relationships—should be reflecting the relationship God wants to have with all of us; the perfect, whole, complete relationship for which we were created.
So let’s accept the invitation, and let’s be the invitation.