This past September marked the eighth anniversary of my husband leaving this earth for his heavenly home. As I sit here pondering this journey of widowhood, I am struck by how I expected the loneliness to be gone by now, but that is not the case. This feeling of loneliness in not limited to widows and widowers or people who have lost someone or something important to them.
As I talk with people, I am amazed at how pervasive loneliness is in all levels of our culture. I am thinking that perhaps this loneliness can be attributed to a lack of deep connection and intimacy with other people. Technology has given us the ability to make more connections with others than ever before and yet mental health care providers indicate that loneliness is on the rise.
Perhaps the shallow nature of electronic connections can’t satisfy humanity’s deep need to know and be known, to be assured one is unconditionally loved and accepted. The social media venue is not a place where deeply felt needs can be articulated and understood without someone passing judgment or condemning.
So how do we cope with the ever-growing plague of loneliness in a way that is healthy and even life-giving? It is obvious that ignoring it, or “stuffing it down” doesn’t work. Trying to address it with more possessions, activities, fame, or power doesn’t work either. Neither does giving in to it and wallowing in self-pity. However, spending time in God’s presence just “being” with Him does.
Years before my husband died, I began practicing the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude which have enabled me to develop a deeper intimacy with God, a greater awareness of His presence in everyday life, a richer appreciation of who I am in Him as well as a renewed reverence for who His is. I have grown to welcome and even embrace the alone times (even the loneliness for my husband’s company) because it is in the isolation that I have learned the blessings of abiding in God’s presence and experiencing absolute love and acceptance. It is there where I find a balm for my soul that dispels the pain of loneliness.
I have learned that when we choose to simply abide in God’s presence, we become aware that we are never alone. God is always with us fulfilling the promises to never leave us or forsake us and assuring us that nothing can separate us from His love.
In addition to developing a deeper intimacy with God, we also have opportunity to reap the benefits of other blessings. John 15:4-11 gives us insights into the blessings gained when we learn to abide. When we practice abiding in Christ, we become more effective fruit bearers (verses 4-5). As we abide, we have the privilege of coming into His presence to ask for whatever we need knowing He will answer (verse 7). Abiding empowers us to have effective ministry that gives glory to the Father and proves we are disciples of Christ (verse 8). Choosing to abide in His presence dispels the loneliness and replaces it with His love and His joy (verses 9-11).
So instead of spending our time trying scrolling through our social media, desperately looking for more “likes” on our posts, let’s scroll through scripture and listen to how much God loves us.
Instead of frantically trying to fill every minute with activities, let’s quiet ourselves and rest in His loving arms.
Instead of trying to fill our emptiness with people, positions, or power, let’s let God be our first love and the source of all we need.
I am going to stop writing now. Jesus is calling me to spend some “abiding” time with Him. I am off to fill my loneliness of missing my husband by abiding in the presence and love of my beloved Lord.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.”