I couldn’t keep it inside any longer. As I sat on the edge of my parents’ bed with tears streaming down my face, I poured out my heart to my mom. I told her how alone I felt. I told her how I wished just one person would take the time to text me and ask how I was doing. Out of all the people who claimed to be my friends, surely just one person cared enough to reach out. It seemed to me like there were so many people that I had invested in, but none cared enough about me to see how my life was going. I wondered what happened to the people who claimed to be my friends.
I have gone through many periods in my life where I have struggled with deep loneliness. I invest in people and grow to care about them, but just when I think that God has finally given me lasting friendships, the very same people leave me in the dust for new places, new friends, and new experiences. I have never been able to understand why I am always the one left behind. All of these thoughts and emotions came crashing down on me that night in my parents’ bedroom. Even though I knew that I was deeply loved by my family, my lack of friendships left me feeling alone, unloved, and unworthy.
Later that night, I sat on my bed and wrote these words in my journal:
What is Loneliness?
It’s more than just feeling alone.
It’s a deep longing for people to care about you as much as you care about them.
It’s the fear that no one genuinely likes you, and those who do seem to enjoy your company are always taken away by other people or circumstances.
Loneliness is a deeply selfish longing to be poured into the way that you have poured into others.
Loneliness is not trusting that God has a plan and refusing to believe that He is enough.
Loneliness is a childlike bitterness and jealousy toward people who have many close friends. It is immense joy in the simplest, most thoughtless acts, like a text or a friendly smile.
Loneliness is the mindset that says, “If no one cares enough to reach out to me, than why should I care enough to reach out to them? They’re probably too busy and I’d rather stay home.”
Loneliness is feigning cheerfulness in a room full of people who don’t really know you and don’t seem to care.
With tears streaming down my face, I wrote the last line in my journal entry: Lord, help me to realize that You are enough.
My struggle with loneliness is not something that I regularly share. To be vulnerable about my struggles and feelings is risky. I might pour my heart out to someone only for them to leave me behind. But I have chosen to write this for the girl or guy who has been there–who understands exactly what I’m talking about and who could have easily written that journal entry him or herself. At the end of the entry above, I asked God to teach me that He is enough–that He completely satisfies me and that a relationship with Him is fully sufficient. In the past few months, He has answered that prayer in more ways than I could have imagined. If you are struggling with loneliness, He can do the same for you.
I am a quirky person. I have a unique sense of humor and can be socially awkward at times. I also have an intense desire to please God in everything, which causes my standards to be pretty high, earning me labels like “boring” or “goody-goody.” These things, coupled with my long list of insecurities, provoked me to falsely believe that no one wanted to take the time to fully know me and understand me. This was the root of my struggle with loneliness. I wasn’t viewing myself through the eyes of God. After looking into Scripture, however, I began to realize that there is Someone who does fully know me–someone who actually knows me better than myself. My Heavenly Father, God, knows me so deeply and so fully that He knows what I will do or say even before it happens. I love how the Christian Standard Bible translates Psalm 139: 1-6:
Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. [This] extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to [reach] it.
The line in these verses that really stood out to me the most is at the end of verse three: “You are aware of all my ways.” God is not only aware of where I am and what I do, but He is also aware of all my ways. He is aware of my quirks, my struggles, my feelings, my convictions, my longings, and even my sense of humor. I am fully and completely known by Him, and that is why He is enough. This is the lesson that God began to teach me in the months leading up to my graduation, and one that He continues to teach me today.
During my second semester of college this year, my classes did not land on the days and times that I had hoped for. Because I commuted to school, I tried to get all of my classes either on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or on Tuesday and Thursday. Unfortunately, my classes fell on every day of the week this semester, requiring me to not only make the drive to school every day, but also attend chapel on a regular basis. This forced me to be on campus a lot and to get involved more than I had planned to. Through forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone, God brought some incredible ladies into my life who invested in me from the first time that I met them. They reached out to me because they love God and people more than themselves, an example that I pray I can follow. They made me feel accepted and loved at my school, and I could not be more grateful to them for their influence on my life. As I moved closer to graduation, God also brought some old friends back into my life as well as some new friends who are following God with all of their hearts and seeking to please Him first. I have been blessed by this group of people more than I can describe. But I would have never been able to benefit from any of these friendships if I had not first realized that God is enough. No matter how godly and dynamic the friendships, no person or group of people can ever satisfy me until I am fully satisfied in Him.
Thinking back to the night on which I wrote that painful journal entry, I realize how thankful I am for the struggle. I am thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned from one-sided, draining friendships. I am thankful for the periods of loneliness in my life. I am even thankful for my insecurities. It has been through these struggles that God has begun to teach me a lesson that will carry me all through life: He is more than enough, and He knows me and loves me more deeply than a person ever could. I am sure that my struggle with loneliness is not over forever, but I do not have to ever be afraid of what the future holds. The One Who knows me fully has had my life planned out since day one, and He will never leave me nor forsake me, whether I have a lot of friends or none at all.
He knows you fully too. He understands you completely, from your odd quirks to your sense of humor, to your dreams and goals. Even though you may feel lonely, friendships will never fulfill you. Just like me, you will never be satisfied until you realize that God is enough for you. Today, choose to believe truth about yourself and your relationship with God. Next time you feel alone, remember that this period of your life is simply part of His ultimate plan for you, and He will never leave you or forsake you. Next time you feel unloved, remember that there is a King who calls you His friend. Next time you feel unworthy, remember that the same King gave His life for you. Choose to believe that He is more than enough.