What to do if you’re feeling lonely
Originally appeared online in the teen series: Trending - March 31, 2020
I’m not sure how much more I can take. It had been almost a week since I’d seen anyone, and the isolation was really starting to get to me. Worse, because I work alone from home and my friends live too far away for me to see them on weeknights, this state of things was my “normal.” When I’d start to think about the days and months ahead, filled with more hours alone, I was overwhelmed with dread and anxiety.
It felt like a life of isolation was mapped out ahead of me, and I couldn’t see a way out. But one day, as I was grappling with these feelings, I had a realization. While all the things that companionship represents—love, joy, union, support—seem to come from people, they really come right from God. This realization was based on what I’d learned from reading the Bible: that “God is love” (I John 4:8 ). From studying Christian Science, I’d also learned that Love, God, is infinite—the source of all real love. So while each of us does express love, this love isn’t sourced in us or our friends and family, but in God. Love actually transcends time and space and any other limitations—like whether or not we’re with people who care about us.
Knowing that good comes from God and isn’t limited to my interactions with others brought me the most relief I’d felt in a long time. I was starting to see some light in what had felt like a very dark situation. It also occurred to me that since God is always present, love, joy, support, and so on must also always be present. These qualities were built into my experience, and so they’d always been with me, and always would be.
I stopped being angry about the situation, which meant that right away I was more receptive to God’s love. I also started to feel more peaceful about the long hours I’d be spending alone. The feeling of loneliness eased.
It felt like a life of isolation was mapped out ahead of me, and I couldn’t see a way out.
I realized that a tangible expression of the love I was newly perceiving was also right and natural. I didn’t have to outline what it would look like. But I could be ready to hear God’s guidance, and in the meantime, I also felt confident that I could enjoy each day.
Even though my schedule hadn’t changed, over the next few days, I had a renewed feeling of enthusiasm for each day, and I no longer felt so alone. The following weekend, I woke up with the thought that I should go get a cat from a local rescue shelter. The message was super clear—almost as if it would be silly not to go and get one! Misty has been a practical expression of companionship that I hadn’t thought would be possible. And loving her has given me a new appreciation for the way our love for others also helps us feel loved and less alone.
Shortly after I adopted Misty, I was also led to get a membership at a different gym. While I’d been mostly alone at my old gym, at the new one, I found it easy to make friends.
It occurred to me that since God is always present, love, joy, and support must also always be present.
While I’m so grateful for these tangible expressions of God’s love in my life, the thing that’s been most meaningful is this new, more rock-solid feeling that Love is always there for me—and for all of us. And that if we’re struggling with feeling lonely or anything else, we really can take our problems to Him. “Cast all your anxiety on him,” the Bible says, “because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7, New International Version). God really does care for each one of us, and I’ve learned that Love won’t leave us without a satisfying solution.
Right now, lots of people the world over are grappling with feelings of isolation, and maybe you are, too. And while we’re all looking forward to things returning to normal, it’s helpful to remember that the love and comfort we’re yearning to feel don’t originate with people. Yes, there are wonderful expressions of companionship—and over the last few weeks we’ve seen many of these in virtual concerts and dinner parties and in online worship services. But it’s cool to know that companionship isn’t limited to these or any other activities, because Love really does fill every bit of space and every one of our moments. So even when your friend’s phone turns off, or no one’s at home, the joy and love that come from God are still there for you—and you can feel them.