A Lifeline in Loneliness – Well-Watered Women

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A Lifeline in Loneliness

March 24, 2022  - By Kati Lynn Davis

A Lifeline in Loneliness - an article from Well-Watered Women

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I graduated high school. I’d always talked about being a writer and an artist when I grew up. But the thought of choosing a specific college or career path felt overwhelming. So I made the choice to live at home and study liberal arts at a local community college while I tried to figure out my future.

While I don’t regret this choice, I do remember those two years being an extremely lonely time in my life. Most of my close friends moved away for school, and while youth group kept me very involved at church all through middle and high school, the "young adult" population there was nearly nonexistent. It felt like everyone else had gone on some grand adventure and left me both physically and emotionally behind.

After transferring to a university six hours from my hometown, I got involved in a Christian group on campus. While I made some wonderful friends through that group, I also discovered that starting at a new school as a junior had its disadvantages. Missing those first two years meant missing out on shared memories and experiences. And those shared memories and experiences were a crucial part of bonding between my classmates. Even as a senior, I still had an odd sense of being the new kid on the block. Once again, I found myself feeling behind, this time relationally. 

The Loneliness of Being Left Behind

Two years and one English degree later, I ended up in the same position I’d been in after high school. I was living at home with no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Even though I was living in the town where I’d grown up, living with my family and attending the same church, in many ways, my time away had shaped me into someone very different from the girl that I had left behind. 

They knew me, but they didn’t really know me. At that point, I barely knew myself.

It didn’t help that as I scrolled through Instagram during my breaks from the part-time job I had at a local library, posts about my friends getting engaged, moving to bigger cities, or starting grad school or some impressive career bombarded my feed. As I double-tapped their photos while lying in my twin-sized bed with the family cat sleeping beside me, I felt the familiar ache that had haunted me throughout college: the ache of being left behind.

We’re All A Little Bit Lonely

There’s nothing like the sting of loneliness. It’s like a sleeping dragon who makes its home in your heart, waking every so often to unleash its painful, fiery breath when you least expect it. It can hit even when you’re surrounded by other people, whether they’re complete strangers or your closest friends. You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely.

Loneliness can manifest in different seasons and situations. There’s the deep loneliness of losing a loved one, the isolating loneliness of struggling with a sin you’re too ashamed to admit, or the painful loneliness of growing distant from a friend you thought would be in your life forever. There’s the loneliness that comes with starting a new job, moving to a new place, or attending a new church.

And then there’s the loneliness that comes with feeling like you don’t quite fit in somewhere. Whether it’s because of your appearance, your relationship status, your income level, your faith, or some other reason entirely, something about you just feels different from the people surrounding you.

So what do we do when loneliness comes? How do we fight back against the lies it tries to tell us—that we’re unseen, unnoticed, and unworthy of love?

We run as fast as we can to the truth.

Consider King David

King David knew something about being lonely. He spent years fleeing for his life, both from his former friend Saul and from his own son, Absalom. He had to say a heartbreaking goodbye to his dearest friend Jonathan, who later died in battle, and he walked through the grief of losing a child because of his own sin, a sin that also certainly strained the relationship between him and his wife.

I imagine there’s also a unique type of loneliness that comes with holding a position of power like the one David had. No one else can quite understand the pressure you face, and everyone has an opinion about the decisions you make. There were probably days when he missed the simpler times of living with his family and spending his days watching over sheep.

Knowing that David can relate to feeling lonely is part of the reason I love Psalm 139 so much. Growing up, I mainly saw this passage as “the body image psalm.” When I struggled with comparing myself to others, I found comfort in the reminder that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v. 14).

However, as I’ve spent more time meditating on the entirety of this psalm, it has become so much more to me than a quick mantra for a self-confidence boost. Psalm 139 is now my lifeline for times when I’m drowning in loneliness.

The Promises of Psalm 139

The one hundred thirty-ninth chapter of Psalms is dripping with poignant descriptions of God’s intimate knowledge of his people. 

  • He is aware of our every thought and movement (v. 2
  • He knows the words we’re going to speak before we even open our mouths (v. 4
  • His presence is always with us, providing light for our souls even in the darkest nights (vv. 11–12
  • He searches our hearts and sees every worry weighing us down (v. 23)

The truth in these verses alone is enough to quell the fear loneliness can bring—the fear that we’re alone in our suffering, our singleness, or our sin. They assure us that, because we’re loved by a God who is both all-knowing and ever-present, we are never, ever alone.

And then verses 17 and 18 bring it home.

Intimately Known by an All-Knowing God

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you” (vv. 17–18).

According to the New International Version, an alternate translation of verse 17 is “How amazing are your thoughts concerning me.” The first time I read this, it blew me away. It doesn’t just tell me that the God who created the entire universe thinks about me. It also tells me that if I could plunge my hands into his mind, his thoughts about me would sift through the cracks between my fingers like sand. He thinks about me all the time. It’s overwhelming in the very best way.

As someone used to sleeping alone, verse 18 is especially comforting: “I awake, and I am still with you.”

When we toss and turn with worry at 1:00 AM, God is with us.

When we sleep in longer than we should on a Saturday, God is with us.

When our alarm goes off and the thought of everything on our to-do list fills us with dread, God is with us.

When we’re startled from our sleep by a nightmare, God is with us.

And in those rare moments when we wake up feeling fully rested and ready to take on the day, God is with us.

Made for More

As someone who grew up in church, it’s so easy for me to take this radical truth for granted. We are fully known and unconditionally loved by a God who is with us. He chooses to make his home in our stubborn and wayward hearts. When the dragon of loneliness roars its lies, our faithful Lion roars back.

Please know, friends, that I’m not trying to dismiss or sugarcoat the very real pain of loneliness. We can do all the right things—reach out to friends, spend time in prayer, remind ourselves of truth—and still feel that ache.

The reality is that our souls know that our Creator made us for perfect communion with him. So until the day when full restoration comes, it will always feel like something is missing. And in a way, that’s actually a really good thing.

Maybe the loneliness that comes with living in an already-but-not-yet world is actually a gift from the Lord: a gentle invitation to turn our earthly eyes to the only One who will never, ever leave us behind.

 

Meet the Author

Kati Lynn is a writer, doodler, and storyteller who is slowly but surely learning how to live loved by Jesus. She loves to explore the intersection of faith, mental health, and media in her writing. She also loves a good animated movie.

 

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A Lifeline in Loneliness-an article from Well-Watered Women

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  1. Catherine says:

    I am in a season where loneliness has really become center. As a single middle aged woman I don’t have the family to keep me busy that my friends do. I have a new job that has few opportunities for meaningful connections. I feel overwhelmed when work is done at the end of the day. I feel like I am almost lost. This article spoke to me. I am going to go through it again and really take the chance to look closer at Psalm 139. Thanks for speaking to the heart of where I am right now.

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