I stood at my car in the pouring rain, luggage in hand, watching the bus drive away when it hit me hard. It was deep, it was overtaking, it was everything at once. “I am completely alone here.”
I recently moved from Maryland to Florida. It was a complete God thing and a very exciting adventure (another story for another day). While I knew it would be hard not having anyone here — no family, only a few scattered friends — I didn’t realize it would impact me at the magnitude that it did. I was fine for the first few weeks after moving here, probably because I was nesting and going to the beach all the time. The huge transition didn’t get to me until after I visited my Maryland home for the holidays.
On the way to the airport, I was fine. When my mom hugged me goodbye, I was fine. On the plane, I was fine. I was fine the whole ride on the economy bus to my car. It was when I was left alone there, just my Toyota Yaris and me, when my whole world came crashing down. So much so that the pouring rain did nothing to hide my sobs and snot. I was far from family, friends, community and normalcy. While I missed those things with all my heart, it was the overwhelming sense that I was utterly alone that got to me. I didn’t have anyone eagerly awaiting my return, no one to pick me up at the airport and drive me home, no one to squeeze me when I got to my apartment. Among the swirl of words in my head: “lonely, forgotten, sad, empty,” one screamed the loudest of all … “SINGLE.”
Loneliness is a tricky thing. It can be subtle or overbearing. It can be in solitude or a room full of people. It can feel empty yet so thick at the same time. You can probably list situations or moments in your life where the realization of being single hits and the loneliness weighs heavy on your heart. Mine are: Seeing the millionth (exaggerating but not really) engagement pop up on my Facebook feed. Being a bridesmaid for four weddings in a year (seriously, that happened). Marking “1 guest” on every single invitation, and having to write articles exposing my heart about this topic. I don’t know about you, but in my loneliness, I’ve turned to some awful things for an instant fix. Erotica, masturbation, porn, overspending and overeating, to name some big ones. I used all of these poor imitations to God’s best to fill the void in my heart. They left me feeling empty, full of shame and regret.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can add some other ‘fillers’ to the list. We can all agree that there is nothing like the humiliation of having to tell a friend your struggle before it eats you up inside. There is nothing like the embarrassment of having to return things to Target because you don’t have enough money to pay your bills. There is nothing that makes you feel more like a failure than the increasing numbers on the scale because chocolate has been your best friend. I’ve been through it as a single adult, and I know you have in some way or another too.
In these lonely times, we try to fill that longing for our significant other someway, somehow. We try to escape the reality. We attempt to mask the hurt. We run from the only One who can fulfill that longing in us. It’s often easier to hide from God than to invite Him into the pain. We know that when we press into Him, He is going to bring things to light, uncover bandaged wounds and make us feel things we don’t want to feel. We fear that vulnerability and avoid that raw place with Him because we don’t want to be exposed. But that unfiltered place is the best place for us to be, right at the center of His heart. A place where He can say, “Finally, you are right where I want you to be.” There is absolutely nothing sweeter than releasing your lonely heart to Him. There is nothing better than realizing you have the choice to embrace the lonely times with Him rather than trying, and failing, to make it on your own.
That lonely moment in the rain changed everything for me. Once I finally got in my car, I just knew that I could not and would not let loneliness control me. I chose not to let my feelings have the final say in my thought process. I decided not to turn to empty things like I would have done in the past. But mostly, I chose to run full force into the arms that love me best. Yes, there are still incredibly lonely moments that may stretch out for days. And yes, I long so deeply to be married and start a family one day soon. But, I honestly wouldn’t trade this unique time with Jesus for anything.
I wish I had a 5-step process to cure the lonely blues, but I don’t. I do, however, have truth. Admitting you’re lonely is more than okay. It should not be embarrassing. It does not make you sound pathetic. There are other lonely hearts (single or not) all around you who may be able to admit it too because of your openness. Surrounding yourself with people who will pray for and with you is always a good idea. It is so precious when a simple text like “Hey, I’m still praying for you!” rolls in. Making time to sit at the feet of Jesus daily is the only thing that will fill you up. There is absolutely, positively nothing else (I’ve tried). Lastly, being married is not a cure for loneliness, and it never will be, so stop thinking that it is.
So, to all my fellow singles, all members of the lonely heart club, you are not alone. You may feel like it sometimes. It may grasp at you in painful waves when you’re least expecting it. The grief of singleness is real and valid, but it cannot and will not overtake you unless you let it. The truth is, sometimes being single sucks. There is no getting around that reality. But you have a choice. You can choose to stand there in the rain sobbing because you’re alone, or you can get in your car and rejoice in Jesus. You have the choice to hide in Him. You have the option to dictate where you place your lonely heart. Let us choose to hide in Jesus today and the next day as well. Let’s choose to no longer let loneliness control us.
Now that we know what we have — Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God — let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all — all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. –Hebrews 4:14-16 (MSG)