And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18
I recently asked a question of the women who follow my newsletter, “What’s the one thing causing you the most pain today?” I gave about a dozen options for them to answer; everything from marriage, financial burdens, health problems, teenagers, adult parents, coworkers, and more. I left no pain unnoticed. All the boxes where there for them to choose from.
The thing most all the women suffered from? The number one box checked off over and over again?
In an age where we hold the world in the palm of our hands, where we can choose from a thousand movies and games to entertain us at any time of day or night for the rest of our living days, we are in more emotional pain and feel more overlooked and disconnected than ever before.
Loneliness is on the rise but it’s not new to any of us. Look through the Bible and you’ll find many of God’s people struggling with it for different reasons. King David comes to mind most often because the Psalms are full of his emotional pain. But, King David didn’t wallow in feeling down, he went to the Lord.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16
Loneliness is a forest fire of emotional pain. It’s the fast and swift current beneath the busyness of our culture and we need to know what to do about it.
All that noise you hear out there? All the news stories and popup ads and a hundred other things hopping up and down saying “look at me”, these are what distract us from the silence of millions more who are hurting and feeling terribly alone.
The cure for loneliness? Discipleship
God created a road map to healing this pain. It’s called discipleship.
Discipleship between women helps us grow spiritually with the loveliest added benefit, it extinguishes loneliness like a wet blanket on a campfire.
Feeling alone is a terrible experience and can lead to all sorts of health problems. [i] Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
We Are Hardwired by God to Need One Another
God created us for relationship with Him and His kids. It’s how we develop and learn the best. God loves us and wants each one of us to recognize not only who He is and what He did for us through His son, but to understand He is with us and for us every step of our life.
If you and I were in a discipleship relationship together and you were struggling with feeling alone, I’d try to keep it simple. I’d share my two-step plan to eradicate loneliness, first –draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Spend time with Him in His word.
Read through a chapter of the Bible and write down the storyline that speaks to you and why. Write back a prayer to the Lord. Before I became a Christian I was lonely and enticed by “spiritual” things like psychics and astrology. I looked everywhere for answers about “me” when I felt alone.
What a mistake that was. Today, I know the very One who made the stars…and those exciting moments I craved that made no sense to the rest of the world has been fulfilled by the Holy Spirit in my life. The first step is to crave time getting to know the Lord. There’ s much we can do to develop a deeper relationship with Him, so what are you doing about it?
Second, I’d encourage you to reach out to someone, even if it feels awkward. Being in healthy relationships mean we grow not only physically but emotionally and even spiritually by leaps and bounds when we are encouraged by others. It’s important to be inspired and most especially loved by those around us. None of that can be done alone. But, the first step is making that call or texting that invitation to meet for coffee. We need each other. I experience this big time in a discipleship relationship.
How to Combat Loneliness
- Don’t look at someone’s happy-clappy Instagram or Facebook post and think their life is perfect. I promise you it’s not. Who puts up photos or video of an argument with their spouse or a tear-soaked pillow?
- Don’t assume someone is busy because they say they are or their social media account showed them out and about. A busy life doesn’t mean a fulfilling life. Invite that person out for coffee anyway.
- Do step outside. Walking even at a snail’s pace helps combat a sedentary life which can be a gateway to loneliness and depression. Get moving!
- Do read God’s Word. If you’re struggling with relationships in your life invest in the One who desires to spend time with you more than anyone. Consider inviting a friend to read a book in the Bible and discuss the chapters. I had no idea how cool the Bible was until I began digging in.
- Do pray for a woman to disciple you. That woman doesn’t have to be perfect. I’d run if she said she was. If you don’t know who to ask, contact your ministry leader and ask who they’d suggest.
- Do cancel that pity party when you throw one. Each time you feel sorry for yourself you’re succumbing to pride. Wherever “self” runs the show the enemy of our soul gives you a standing ovation. If that’s where you are, take the time to confess and pray for the Lord to show you how to take your eyes off yourself for a bit and put them on someone who may need a friend, too.
- And, if your loneliness has tipped the scales and you’re experiencing depression you just can’t shake, tell someone today and contact a counselor.
In the Book of Genesis, God begins Chapter two by telling the story of all of humanity. Adam isn’t alive very long before God sees he is lonely and makes sure to let us know that loneliness is not good for us. We are social creatures, meant for interaction with one another. It’s how we survive and thrive in this world.
This is why I’m a big proponent of transforming women’s ministry into women’s discipleship in churches all over the world.
“No worse fate can befall a man in this world than to live and grow old alone, unloving and unloved. Henry Drummond
Discipleship is what Mary and Elizabeth experienced together in the gospel of Luke. Can you imagine how alone Mary must have felt the minute the angel Gabriel left her? He’d just told her God’s plan. She would be pregnant with Jesus—before marrying Joseph.
Take a minute and imagine how alone Mary must have felt. It was legal to stone to death a pregnant woman out of wedlock in Jewish culture back then. What may have began as excitement to be chosen, would quickly turn to racing thoughts of fear and loneliness.
The weight of worry is a lonely place to be. Now add to that the weight of what she knew God wanted her to do. Where would she find help? Where were the Bible studies for women pregnant with the Son of God? Where was the church series on single moms or being stoned to death?
Gabriel encouraged Mary by pointing her to Elizabeth.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Luke 1:36-37
Mary ran as fast as she could to Elizabeth. It was a three day’s journey and feeling alone was bone deep by the time she knocked on Elizabeth’s front door.
Elizabeth immediately welcomed her, even six months pregnant herself and even without a call from Mary to give her time to tidy up the place. Elizabeth flung her door open wide and began encouraging this sweet girl who was frightened and feeling terribly alone.
Mary spent the next three months with Elizabeth being encouraged by this godly woman just a few months ahead of her in her own pregnancy. Yet, those few months was far enough ahead for Elizabeth to know it was her duty to reach down and pull Mary along, one faithful step at a time.
This is discipleship and it cures loneliness every single time.
[i] (National Institute on Aging, 2019)
Written by Joanne Kraft of Discipleship for Women.
Originally posted here, used with permission.