It may be the “season of love” but for many of us, it is a season of loneliness. It brings broken dreams to the surface. As those around us get valentines in their mailboxes, ours may be empty.
It may be the emptiness of a lost loved one. Or the relationship that hasn’t ever manifested. Or the brokenness of a marriage. Maybe it is the loneliness and pain of unmet expectations. It could be the longing for the love and affection of a parent. Or the longing to meet the child you’ve never been able to have. It could be the longing to have a friend you can truly share your heart with and not get stabbed in the back. However you look at it, the box is empty.
Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed doesn’t make things any better. How come they have the nice family and I don’t? The jealousy surfaces along with the pictures of flowers, dates, chocolates and cute kids.
I know. I’ve been there. In the midst of Friday nights spent in my room by myself, feeling alone in a crowd of people, and falling asleep with tears streaking my face, I’ve learned something. And it’s rocked my world.
None of the things I long for so much will ever satisfy the loneliness in my heart.
I’ve gotten married to a wonderful man, had two amazing kids, have a great family and friends – all the things I’ve longed for. I’ll let you in on a secret – as amazing as they are – it doesn’t fill the hole inside my heart. I can post the pictures of flowers and chocolates and still be empty inside. The thrill of the things and the people may last for a season, but eventually, it fades.
When all that is left is falling flower petals, empty chocolate wrappers, dirty diapers, snotty noses, and the ache inside, where do I turn?
The ache is the longing in my heart to know True Love.
As much as I hate feeling the familiar ache – with every lonely night, every move to a new city, every unmet expectation, I’m learning something. The ache is a reminder that God desires me to draw close to Him. Life this side of heaven can be ugly. And it hurts. The ache reminds me that I was created for more. And the ache can only be soothed in one place – the presence of a loving God – our True Love.
All this “true love” business sounds good but what do I do with it? How will this actually help pull me out of the muddy pit I’m in? Glad you asked.
1. Receive God’s Love
I think one of my biggest struggles in my walk with God has been to truly receive His love. I still don’t have it mastered. But I’m growing. So many times I don’t feel like I’m good enough. The recording plays through my head, “I haven’t done enough to deserve it. In fact, I really blew it this week and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t want to talk to me. I failed Him. Why should He love me?”
The amazing thing is, when I come to Him anyway, I find out that His love is bigger than anything I have understood. His love chose to pay the penalty for my guilt, my sin, my failure before I even repented.
When I’m struggling to receive His love, I’ll ask Him to show it to me. Then many times I’ll look at His Word – His love letter to me – to remember what He has already said. Things like this:
- He has called me His child – and not just any kid – but one who is dearly loved (1 John 3:1).
- He breaks into song over me because He can’t contain His joy when He thinks of me (Zephaniah 3:17).
- He has removed my shame, calmed my fears, and showered me with love. (Isaiah 54:4-5)
- He has named me and I am a crown in His hand that He has called exceedingly beautiful. He delights in me. (Isaiah 62:2-4)
- His love doesn’t end. He draws me to Himself with His faithfulness. (Jeremiah 31:3)
- He chose me, has a good plan for me, accepts me, and calls me His own. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
So many times, in the lonely places, we can only see our lack. We don’t see the abundance we have been blessed with through the cross. Our response of gratitude and worship to what He has already done begins to open up the broken places inside so God can bring His healing touch. As we ask for the deeper revelation of God’s love and ask Him to fill those lonely places, He will. He is Faithful. He delights to do it.
2. Give the Love Away
Another thing that has helped me conquer the loneliness in my life is to love someone else. Bring cookies to the neighbors just because. Give roses to the widow down the street. Send an encouraging text to a friend. Pray for someone else you know is hurting. Invite someone over for dinner. It’s a funny thing when you shift your focus from what you’re lacking to what you can give. The joy of surprising someone else with exactly what they needed helps a lonely time not feel so lonely.
And who knows, as you bless others with the cards and chocolate you crave yourself, you may find your Valentine box unexpectedly full.
Got any stories of how God has helped you through loneliness? I’d love to hear from you!