Recently, I got a teeny taste of what my life may be like once my youngest graduates and moves out on his own. Let's just say as a single mom, I've had my share of alone time, BUT the thought of being alone day-after-day doesn't sound appealing.
Not only was I alone, I also felt lonely. And this made me want to figure out what was rattling around in my brain and how to handle (in healthy ways) this reality that I'd likely face in the future.
I discovered 2 things:
I'd like to unpack this a bit and share with you the SOLUTIONS that have worked for me.
First, let's look at some definitions from Blue Letter Bible.
In Gen. 2:18 we read: "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.'" The Old Testament Hebrew word "alone" here means: apart, separated, withdrawn, isolated, divided, dis-joined, by self, solitary, desolate.
In Mat. 14:23 we read: "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone." This New Testament Greek word in this passage means: alone (without a companion), forsaken, destitute of help, alone, only, merely. Oddly enough, its root takes a different turn and means: to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for).
In Psalm 25:16, David writes: "Turn to me and be gracious to me, For I am lonely and afflicted." And also in Psalm 102:7: "I lie awake, I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop."
This word basically means what it suggests: solitary, forsaken, wretched, and desolate.
So let's connect the dots on what all this means.
HOW TO HANDLE BEING ALONE
If you're alone (literally), it might be a good time to carve out a bit of intentional and uninterrupted time to commune with the Lord. You can enjoy singing and dancing during this time as well or reading His Word. Pray, asking Him to fill you to overflowing with His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His love. Wait patiently for the comfort to well up in your heart and mind.
If you're all filled up with Him, then it might be an opportune moment to reach out to others.
HOW TO HANDLE FEELING LONELY
So what if....
Trust me. I've been there!
It might be time to FIGHT BACK. Loneliness is an emotion. You actually have the wonderful privilege of choosing your emotions as well as the thoughts that produce them. You do not have to stay stuck in loneliness.
I'm quite acquainted with Señor Loneliness. He's kinda like an old familiar friend. I had to learn how to deal with him because he kept invading my heart and mind until finally after years of inviting him in, offering him a comfy chair and a cool glass of iced tea, I discovered just how much he was robbing from me.
And boy is this guest a consumer! He draws steadily out of my emotional, spiritual, and physical energy tanks leaving them empty and dry. Sometimes his best friend Self-Pity comes rushing in my front door along side him. They encourage me to seek COMFORT in ways that only exacerbates my downtrodden condition.
ll, let's just say that with considerable energy spent applying the 5 R's to my toxic thinking resulting from feeling lonely, I've finally figured out how to disengage from Mr. Loneliness (and his best friend Mr. Self-Pity) once and for all. They used to have an open invitation into my brain, but now the message I consistently them both is
DO NOT ENTER. YOU'RE NOT WELCOME HERE.
And then I pivot to what is true. And you can, too.
What I'm not saying is that emotions and thoughts are BAD. No. They are God-given and critically vital. They help us to refocus on what matters most. Thank goodness that we are sentient beings and that we FEEL.
If it weren't for the dark, we wouldn't recognize the light. I like to experience a range of emotions, the undulating ups and downs. I'm human, and it's okay to be human.
What I am saying is that after recognizing the emotion and praying through it, carefully aligning my heart and my brain with God's Truths, if we STILL feel trapped or like we are lingering too long in that state, we will need to armor up and take those toxic thoughts captive!
We may need a huge dose of Holy Spirit Comfort, a remedy that only God can offer.
I am very grateful that the state of being alone and the feeling of loneliness have SPIRITUAL solutions. Suffering has a way of driving me to God because we both know that nothing of this world truly satisfies. And I'm also grateful that there are many, many things I can do PHYSICALLY when I am alone, most of which cause me to reach out to others, to try to help them and serve them. In doing these things I'm becoming more Christ-driven and Christ-like.
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