One of the increasing struggles among people, even in the Church, is loneliness. Let me ask you bluntly, “How many real friends do you have?” I find that younger women have the most, aging adults have a few and men have almost none. Those are “best-case” scenarios. Everywhere I turn there are people who feel lonely and are looking for human connections.
Here are three reasons I have found that many people feel lonely in Church. Test yourself to see if any of these are true of you.
1. You Have a “Come to Me” Attitude. You sit in your house and look out the window asking yourself, “Why doesn’t anyone ever come to visit me?” It is possible to spend your life waiting for people to come to your house while other people are sitting alone waiting for people to go to them. Imagine if everyone is waiting for someone else to invite them into their lives. Then no connections will ever be made.
The other possibility is to pick up the phone and ask someone, “Would you like to come over and visit?” Perhaps you could get out of your house and join in some activity. This might be a Church function, a local social event or even some form of service. If you feel lonely, then maybe you need to reach out to other people.
2. You Have Settled for Shallow Friendships. I define a deep relationship in these terms. The other person knows what makes me laugh and what makes me cry. They know what brings me joy and what hurts me. People in my life who do not know those things about me are only acquaintances. In today’s busy world, many people are willing to settle for that as their only source of connection to the outside world. Then when times get tough, no one is around. Most likely, they do not even know you are struggling or lonely. In order to have deep and meaningful relationships, you are going to have to invest your life in others. You are also going to have to let people invest in you. This may take many hours, but the joy of real friendships will be the result.
3. You Have Listened to the Voice of Evil. This can happen in many ways. One way is fear; you are afraid of bringing people into your life. You might even think, no one would want you as their friend. A second way this happens is when we ignore the words of the Lord. God proclaims, “Never will I leave you or forsake you.” Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Even in life’s darkest hours, you are not alone. Finally, I see people who live in isolation because of some sin. They are afraid of building relationships because they believe they will be rejected because of their sin. This leads to more isolation and usually greater sin. Evil loves to keep us alone and thinking there is no way out.
I know these descriptions do not fit every lonely person, but I believe they describe the majority. Whenever a Christian tells me how alone they feel, I start asking questions. What initiative are you taking to develop deep relationships?