“Why do I feel so lonely when I have so many people in my life?”
This question was asked by a teen girl at our church. I am sure she is not the only one with this on her heart.
Loneliness can be felt in a crowd, in a large family, even by people with lots of friends, and those who seem to have everything all together.
Our family moved from Florida to Texas in the summer of 1999. We knew no one in the small town of Midlothian, other than the pastor whose church we wanted to be part of. My husband was going to seminary and working, and I was home with our then-six-month-old daughter. Talk about lonely. I had grown up in Florida, gone to college in Florida, gotten married in Florida. I had a church full of people who loved our little family and a town I was very familiar with in Florida.
I am a people person – I like being surrounded by people, hanging out with people, talking with people. I like getting phone calls and invitations to movies and dinner and just to hang out. I like going to the mall or the grocery store or to church and running into people I know. I crave community.
But when we first arrived in Midlothian, I had none of that. I didn’t even know how to get to the grocery store or the mall, forget knowing anyone once I got there. It was just me and little Emma. And lots and lots of time.
There were several months when I felt “unknown”, isolated, and incredibly alone. I was tempted to just hole up and forget it. Forging new friendships is hard. While I am a people person, I am guarded when it comes to letting people get really close. It takes me a long time to let people “in.”
God used that time to work in me, though, in many ways. First, my time with him was sweeter. He was the “friend that sticks closer than a brother.” I cried to him, screamed to him, poured out my loneliness, and he met me there. Second, our little family grew closer, as I learned to make that circle of what would eventually become five my priority (behind Jesus, of course). And I learned what it feels like to be “new.” I hadn’t really experienced that before. My precious friends at Midlothian Bible Church taught me how to make someone who feels like an outsider feel welcomed. They invited me to join them at the parks, at their homes, in their ministries. They loved my kids. They helped me through some incredibly difficult times in my life and my marriage and, six years later, they gave us the wings to be able to leave what had then become home to start over in another country.
What seemed at the time to be terrible — leaving everyone and everything I knew in Florida — ended up being the greatest blessing of my life. But I had to work past the loneliness to realize that. I had to wait on God to bring me through the valley to get to the mountaintop. It didn’t happen overnight.
So if you are feeling lonely, unknown, isolated, don’t lose hope. God brings good out of even the darkest times, the most difficult situations. We don’t always see that good – especially when we are in the middle of it. But cling to him, put your hope in him, and know that he will NEVER leave you or forsake you.