Loneliness is often described as sadness resulting from isolation or lack of companionship. Aging can compound a sense of loneliness. Yet, isn’t it interesting that many people feel lonely even when they are not alone? That’s because the feeling of isolation often comes from something other than the absence of people.
Although loneliness can stem from lack of community, more often loneliness is a state of mind. Perhaps a significant season has passed and loss is felt. Or life hasn’t turned out as expected. Sometimes trials have an isolating affect. Whatever the emotional space may be, loneliness occurs when a person feels there is no one in their life who is truly like minded with whom they are able to connect (or understands what they are going through). This is the deeper issue of the heart for a lonely person.
Because true heart connections can remain so elusive, even when surrounded by community, lonely people often seek to fill this void with vain comforts. Sadly, these vain comforts often leave the heart feeling twice as empty and twice as isolated.
These temporary comforts can be anything from TV, social media binging, workaholism, over eating eating, drug and alcohol use, or unhealthy physical encounters. This is the nature of the human spirit: when there is a demand (the gap of loneliness) we seek to supply it, often with a substitute companionship that offers temporary comfort.
In a similar way, within the Christian community, we are often compelled to satisfy this loneliness with activities. We come and go and never really make true connections that include openness and transparency. Recognozing loneliness and the human tendency to self-remedy helps to navigate towards more helpful solutions. Loneliness may be the divine opportunity God allows to draw us into a deeper level with Himself and genuine connections to others.