Blessings of Singleness#1: Loneliness

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Loneliness isn’t unique to singleness.  I can’t imagine the very painful loneliness of living with an emotionally absent husband or going to sleep alone after losing a spouse.

Loneliness is the strangest sensation.  It is physical and emotional and I don’t quite no what to do with it.  And I know it won’t kill me but when I’m experiencing it, it seems strangely unbearable.  I feel that if I can’t fix it – if I can’t make it go away – I’ll die.

For me, loneliness is rooted in the pain of never feeling truly known; not having anyone who shares my deepest fears, dreams or longings.  And the fraudulent reality that singles sometimes believe is that no one has even attempted to know us.  We feel alone in decisions.  We feel alone in our fears.  We feel alone in our dreams.  The weird thing about singleness is that no one is supposed to know us in the deepest ways.  I am in a season of life where God has declared that no mortal being will know me intimately.  And that’s lonely.

The pain of loneliness is such a gift.   Like all pain, it lets us know that something somewhere isn’t quite right.  My loneliness reminds me that this world is unsatisfying and insufficient.  It’s a signpost that prompts me to seek help outside of myself.

Each jab of loneliness tests my heart: do I believe in the ‘enoughness’ of God? Will I believe in what He says even when life seems to testify otherwise?  He says I have everything I need.  He says He will satisfy the longing heart.  And each twinge of pain provides a reminder to cast my gaze heavenward and to refuse to be comforted by anything but Him.

Without loneliness, I would never persevere.  I am too easily satisfied.  Given the choice, I would settle for any companionship that would offer me a momentary sedative for loneliness.  And in His great kindness, the Lord has not provided that for me.  On a Friday night, alone in my apartment, when I feel like no one even knows I’m alive, there is no hope of freedom from the loneliness except the goodness of God and the truth of the gospel.  I have no where else to turn.  I am forced to deal with God.  His promises become my only hope.

There are ways to waste your loneliness.  You will waste your loneliness if you let it feed a desire for mere mortals instead of the Almighty.  Our loneliness is not designed to teach us to long for a spouse.  A spouse or singleness, companionship or loneliness – they are all designed to teach us to long for God.

You will waste your loneliness if you allow it to lead you to doubt the promises and the goodness of God.  The primary blessing of loneliness is that it teaches you to yearn for God in a deep way and it can be used by the Spirit to increase and fuel our faith so that we might believe that He is our only joy.

You will waste your loneliness if you try to shove things into the God shaped hole inside of you and become embittered when they fail to satisfy a need they were never made to fill.  Or if you become frustrated with God that He hasn’t provided idols for you to turn to instead of Him.  There is someone who knows us deeply.  There is someone who pursues us intimately and always.  Loneliness doesn’t happen because Jesus is not enough.  Loneliness happens because we don’t have enough of Christ.  The crossroads we arrive at when the pain sets in forces us to see what we really believe.  Will we trust that He is our treasure and reach and beg for more of Him?  Or, will we trade Him for a more tangible, but more pathetic treasure?

Press into your loneliness and allow it to remind you that you are not home here.  He promises to satisfy the longing heart and fill the hungry mouth with good things.  Don’t let your loneliness ever be quenched with something this side of Heaven.  Learn to long with a Holy discontentment.  Our God is the God of the hungry and the thirsty.  By His grace I will stay in that category.  God forbid I ever get full and fat on the gifts He gives.

Whatever your stage of life – be encouraged when you experience loneliness.  Press into it.  Learn not to look to your spouse or friends to make this feeling go away – but instead let the pain instruct you to long for what is not yet seen.

Yearn for the only one who will ever fully know you and love you unfailingly & faithfully.  There is only One.  His name is Jesus.  He alone can satisfy the longing heart.  Let your loneliness lead you to long for Him.

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Comments

  1. This was beautiful.

  2. Chelsea says:

    Girl … thank you. So awesome.

  3. SO GOOD!! Thank you, Fabs. This has blessed and encouraged my heart today.

  4. “You will waste your loneliness if you allow it to lead you to doubt the promises and the goodness of God.”

    Well said…great post. Thank you!

  5. Me, again.
    I have been learning some of this, but hadn’t put it into such eloquent words. Truly beautifully expressed.

  6. Fabs:
    Thank you for all these posts. I’d have to say I almost completely agree with all these “singleness” posts. Like others, I agree that they are beautifully written. I thank God that He is reaching out to so many through you.
    That being said, I just want to note that we need to be careful how we talk about struggles and pain. God doesn’t enjoy seeing us in pain. He doesn’t want me to feel lonely so that I can learn to lean on him to fulfil me. I believe he uses the pain and the suffering, in various areas of my life, turning them into times of learning and remembering to rely on him. However, I don’t believe that He makes these sufferings happen in order that I will turn to Him.
    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your struggles with whoever ends up reading them. It’s always encouraging to know that you’re not alone. Keep sharing the truth.
    In Christ,
    ~Lynette

  7. Thank you so much for writing this blog post (and the whole series for that matter)! I am 23 years old and I had always thought that by this time I’d be married and starting a family. My mom was 19 when she married and had her first child. I thought I would be just like her. I thought I was SUPPOSED to be just like her. I thought it was my calling…until it didn’t happen. I know, I’m only 23. Most people would tell me not to despair, I have plenty of time. But that’s not the point. The point is, God doesn’t want me to be married right now. And I think He probably doesn’t want me to be married for some time to come. Maybe even forever. And I’m okay with that now. When I was 20, I thought my world was coming to an end. For the last few years, I have watched several of my most treasured and hoped-for dreams blow away on the breeze. But through it all, I have learned that this earth is the dreaming ground. It’s the place where desires are born. But it is not the place where they will be fulfilled. We will not be fully satisfied until we are finally with the One we were created for. So I see the hunger as a blessing now, just like you, because it reminds me not to live for this world and it’s treasures. There’s a much better Kingdom reservered for us in Heaven. Thank you so much for this encouraging blog! It made my day!

  8. Good post, thanks for sharing :)

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for posting this. As I was reading it tonight, I was feeling exactly as you were describing. Lonely, on a Friday night, alone in my place because my roommate is on a date with her boyfriend of over a year now. Loneliness does compel me to go to the Lord and cry out to Him, “why!” How is it that so many others are receiving that one blessing that I so desire? It would just be so nice to have some guy pursue me, take notice of me, want to be with me. I’m 32, is that too much to ask God? He said Himself we are to leave our parents and be one with our mate. Is it the culture? Is it the world? Is it me? I just don’t know what it is but for some reason God isn’t letting that wonderful blessing happen to me. Instead I have to watch it happen to those around me. What makes me so different then they? I just don’t know and I don’t understand. As much as I want to desire the Lord and only Him, I still have the longing to be with a life partner, to have companionship…but you’re right, the Almighty doesn’t compare to the tangible, more pathetic being. But I can’t see the Almighty right now and I can’t feel Him hold me. How is it possible to see this as a gift? Sometimes I feel like I have come to that point of satisfaction in the Lord and really believe that I don’t need anyone to fulfill my longing and then God just happens to bring someone in my life, usually, that I see possible potential but then it really wasn’t. To me it seemed like a tease…but I know God wouldn’t do that. I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing you but, there isn’t anyone else right now by me to pour this out to, except God, which I’ve done…He knows exactly how I feel but still, no phone call, text, email, just silence. This is the most painful thing ever.

    • fabsharford says:

      Jennifer, thanks for sharing. Gosh, I so know where you are and how you are feeling. I prayed for you last night and I’m praying for you again right now. Don’t be afraid of the pain. Take a deep breathe and feel all of it and remember that it won’t kill you, even though it feels like it will. It’s okay that it hurts. God made you for more than your current life. He didn’t make you to be complete on your own. But don’t be satisfied with what this world tells you will satisfy you. Want more. Want Him. I’m praying that for you because I know it’s a work by Him alone. I’m praying that nothing this world has to offer will be enough for you. I’m praying for you to long for Him, desire Him, and spend your life to speed His return. hugs to you sister.

    • Jennifer,

      I can totally relate! I received a promise from the Lord regarding my husband about 7 years ago. LOL yup……………………………………….SO… I’m still single. I dated for a few years trying to fill that “promise gap” with what I thought God wanted for me. No bueno. And I HAVE DEFINITELY gone before the Father like “Ok, what is wrong with me that I’m not in a relationship” or “Why is it that people who don’t even serve You have the very things I’ve been asking You for for years?” Or “Why do I get pursued by all the REJECTS (unqualifieds lol) instead of the one man You created me for?” But I think Fab made a very awesome point in this blog…..

      ” Our loneliness is not designed to teach us to long for a spouse. A spouse or singleness, companionship or loneliness – they are all designed to teach us to long for God.”

      Just because I’m lonely doesn’t mean I’m supposed to go asking for my husband. Like Fab says, which I’m finding to be true..this loneliness crossroad should really tell me where I’m at with the Lord…

      Am I pressing into Him for what I need? Or complaining because its too hard? Do I really trust Him? Obviously the time has not come for me to be married and if I trust God that He knows what He is doing then why resist the process? Why give my loneliness more power than it should have?

      No matter how much we gain in this world it will never be enough to fill the longing. Never. Money, power, things and people they all fail us at some point. Like children who are so anxious and excited for a new toy and when they get it they play with it for a while and then are looking for the next thing they just gotta have.

      When I reflect on past relationships I remember all to clearly the times of LONELINESS. How could that be when I had a man to tell me he loved me or even family and friends to say they cared?

      Because people weren’t created to take Gods place in our hearts.

      Even if we have all that we desire, it’s our relationship with Christ that makes us WHOLE.

  10. Thanks for posting this heartfelt entry, Fabs. I agree with you that suffering should draw us closer to God, but I suggest that the mechanism for this can actually vary a lot.

    Let me draw an analogy between the suffering of loneliness and the anxiety of not being able to provide for a family. For men, these experiences are not so different, though I’ll defer an explanation unless someone asks.

    If a man loses his job, the anxiety that follows is meant to draw him to God and also to look for alternative ways to provide. It’s not either and; it’s both-or: otherwise, he’s acting worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim 5:8)

    I go even further and say that he seeks God *through* seeking a way to provide. The suffering is a way to get him outside of himself and to think about others and not just wallow in his pain. He has to overcome the emotional lethargy created by his suffering in order to love those around him and consequently love God. (1 John 4:20)

    Just as providing for a family is a true need and responsibility, marriage is a true need and responsibility for most believers. Loneliness exists partly to show us this: it’s not good for a man to be alone. We long for the gift because the gift is good and the Giver is better. We’re willing to sacrifice for this good gift because that is part of what makes the gift so good.

    Sacrificing for the gift is a picture of the gift’s value and the greater value of the giver. It’s also a picture of Christ and the church. And the sacrifice of love for another Christian is a visible witness to unbelievers of the invisible love of Christ.

    I agree that the internal seeking of God is a good thing and that loneliness can help us to do this. I also think there is a greater purpose here that will not be fulfilled unless we step outside of ourselves. And when we sacrifice for others, we may sometimes find ourselves to be less lonely because loneliness points toward the goodness of giving ourselves to others.

    These thoughts are open to correction, clarification, and questioning. Please have at it. :)

  11. “Loneliness doesn’t happen because Jesus is not enough. Loneliness happens because we don’t have enough of Christ.”

    My favorite line.

    Excellent work on this article!

  12. “And I know it won’t kill me but when I’m experiencing it, it seems strangely unbearable, I feel that if I can’t fix it- if I can’t make it go away- I’ll die.”

    The cool thing is, Jesus DID feel that kind of loneliness, only worse, his loneliness literally crushed Him.

    He was separated from his eternal community in the Trinity so that we will never have to feel that kind of loneliness. We no longer have to be separated from God because Jesus was separated FOR US on the cross.

    We never have to experience the kind of loneliness that kills us because Jesus experienced that already, and not only did He experience it, but He defeated and overcame sin, death, and also, loneliness!

    When our lives are wrapped up with Christ, we get to experience the community of the Trinity, in and with Him.

    What a beautiful gospel! It’s easy to write these words, but the real struggle is learning how to believe it.

    When we feel lonely, take heart, Jesus knows our pain. He really does!

    Thanks for your thoughts Fabs; they are honest, rich and true. I’m blessed by your posts.

  13. Wow! Your post is powerful, yet beautiful. It’s a true reminder that we are created by God for God. I agree absolutely nothing can ever fill the void that is meant for Him. Great post!

    Blessings,
    Marilyn

  14. I cherish my time alone. I go a little nutty when I don’t get enough of it. It’s part of why I’m not sure I even want to marry. But reading this I see an undercurrent of idolatry in my actions – not letting myself be drawn into deeper relationship with my Creator because I’m too busy luxuriating in the lack of demands on my time and heart. But it doesn’t matter if I live alone – I still own my time and heart to Another.

  15. Fabs, I am a husband and a father in his 40’s who likes the work you do. It is amazing to see how the devil is using this area of loneliness to lead so many to him. Our culture even makes it so difficult to walk through this narrow way therefore many are compromising. Even those in the body of Christ. I have young adult girls that I am raising and my prayer is that you do not give it up; edify the audience God has anointed you to. This could be why he allows you to experience certain things yourself.

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  1. [...] But reading the amazing honesty and vulnerability that Fabs has recently put into her “Blessings of Singlesness” blog series (seriously, go check it out), I feel inspired to open up a little myself.   [...]

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