Loneliness was not something I thought I would experience in my early 40’s. The loss of my husband, my children growing up, and half of my family no longer living in my home has left me with days that are often filled with solitude. Not that solitude is a bad thing, there are times when I relish the time to think, ponder, study and write. Solitude has been a healing time for me, but there are times when the solitude is too much and loneliness encroaches heavily on my heart. This has cause me to think deeply about these emotions and to question their purpose in my life.
Loneliness is not the absence of people.
I have found it to be the absence of an intimate connection. I can still feel lonely even in a large group of people. Conversations can go around around me. I smile and feign interest, but inside I am lonely because I feel emotionally isolated. I am lonely when there is something deep inside that I feel I cannot share or that no one around me understands. I believe we have a deep desire to be understood on a level that often defies words. It is a spiritual desire that is only quenched by relationships that defy the trivial and approach the divine.
Loneliness is not about the absence of physical intimacy.
Although people often equate it with that and attempt to use sex as a substitute to fill the void they feel, physical intimacy without the deep emotional connection is empty and hollow. It is an act that may temporarily cover symptoms, but it doesn’t address the underlying problem. In fact physical intimacy often makes feelings of loneliness more intense when we realize the act is void of commitment and deep emotional and spiritual connection.
Loneliness is a symptom of an underlying void in your life.
In order to overcome loneliness, the underlying cause must be address not just the symptoms treated temporarily for the moment. If left ignored, loneliness can grow and fester like a cancer and destroy the human spirit. So what is the underlying void causing loneliness?
We are more than just physical beings. There is an emotional, and spiritual side of us that has existed for longer than we remember. I believe that void is a spiritually longing for a connection that we formerly enjoyed, something that emerges within us as a faint trace of a memory. It is not completely found in the relationships we form in this often disconnected mortal experience. Long ago we enjoyed this spiritual connection with each other and our Heavenly Father before our birth, when we existed with Him as his spiritual children. It is that former connection that we long to recreate in the relationships we form here.
Loneliness reminds us that we are strangers here.
It compels us to seek relationships and try to reconnect with that spiritual connection we once enjoyed.
Loneliness is a symptom of a the inner longing to be deeply known and understood, it is a symptom of our separation from God.
In a great marriage, a spouse can be a close substitute for that spiritual relationship we once enjoyed in the presence of our Heavenly Father. The best marriages are those that are triangle relationships between a husband, wife and the Lord. I know this to be true because I experience this at times my marriages.
At first, I thought loneliness was caused by the absence of Scott. I miss him terribly, but as
I have pondered the source of my loneliness, I have realized there were times in our marriage when I felt lonely. Those were times when we were not “one” in purpose, not just with each other, but also with God.
I have come to the conclusion, that to actually heal that void, I have to first develop a deeper, stronger and more sustainable relationship with my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. Over and over again, I have found relief from grief and loneliness is available as I turn more to God.
His love, His understanding, His soothing is what I am truely missing.
Relationships with others that are based on principles of unconditional love help us to feel His love through their hands. The intimate connection I felt with my husband was because he had learned to truly loved me and see me as Christ does. My relationships with my children, other family members and close friends can help me feel that love as well as we work to develop a mutual Christ-like love in those relationships.
My thoughts have been drawn back recently to the experience that prepared me for my husbands death as I was walking with my children a few hours before the accident. Seeing them together, so happy and enjoying each other’s company I had been filled with indescribable peace and joy. The words had clearly formed in my mind…
“If something happens to Scott, this will be enough, you could still be happy.”
In moments of intense loneliness, I have thought, “This isn’t enough!” I wished for someone to come into my life to fill the void I felt. I am learning that this is not true.
I was being reminded that the relationships to provide me with the love, understanding and comfort that I needed already existed.
I simply needed to continue to nurture them and make them stronger. God was trying to tell me that although I didn’t have a husband to demonstrate God’s love for me, I had been blessed with 4 amazing children who would still be able to do that for me. I have been blessed with parents, and siblings and friends who do that on varying scales as well.
“God gave us families to help us become what he wants us to be. This is how he shares his love, for the family is of God.”
I really am not alone, and even when those people are not actively showing me love, I can always turn directly to God and pray until I feel that love from Him flowing into me. When no one else understands the unique circumstances of my heart, He does. He listens and He fills me with peace.
I have learned that the only way remarriage will be satisfying and fulfilling for me is if I can find a partner who is willing to work to have mutual unconditional love toward each another. That will not just take a very special person, but a man who has a very special and personal relationship with the Lord. In order to find that again, I will have to trust God, if it is His will, to lead me to it. According to His time table, if the opportunity arises for another marriage partner to be those hands, then I will welcome that blessing again in my life, but if not, then I know that my relationship with The Lord will be enough to carry me through the rest of this life.
There is a promise at the end… If I live true and faithful, The Lord will welcome me back into that “oneness.” A oneness that will exist with Him and with other family members, especially my dear sweet husband. I look forward to and welcome that future day, but today I will work on my individual and personal relationship with the Lord.
A Caution and a Way Out:
With the void felt from the loss of a spouse either through death or divorce, a very real danger exists. The temptation to simply try to fill the void with another relationship can be intense. People often prematurely begin dating and find themselves in unhealthy relationships. Moral judgment can be set aside in the moment. The temptation to temporarily fill or mask that void can be extreme. Sex, alcohol, drugs, even food are just that… temporary band-aids that leave the void all the more raw when the indulgence is over.
Furthermore, they can develop into dangerous patterns of addiction. I have friends that I have watch spiral into this trap. I have watched as these choices have bread additional sorrow, feeling of regret, remorse and more intense loneliness. Fortunately, for those that have fallen into this pit, I can testify that there is hope. It is escapable. I have watched friends turn to Christ and emerge from this entangling trap, but it has been a long and difficult climb for them. My advice… even if you are intensely lonely, is to avoid them at all costs.