On Loneliness

[I wrote most of this a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to wait and publish it in February, just because. It’s still not exactly how I want it, but here goes anyway:)]


Loneliness shouldn’t be a thing.

Before you read further (and in case you are my parents reading this;), please know that I’m not writing this tonight because I feel particularly sad or lonely, though—like everyone—I get that way a fair amount. It’s something I have struggled with (and will probably continue to); tonight it’s what was on my mind. A friend and I were talking about how hard it is, sometimes, to be patient regarding our relationships in college, especially when it feels like everyone else has a person, and we don’t. What’s equally confusing is that sometimes I am perfectly fine with how things are, and I feel strongly that I am not at that part of my life right now. My friend suggested that what makes her feel intuitively that she might not be ready for a dating relationship is, oddly enough, her (sometimes acute) longing for it. I think maybe my friend was on to something—but I’ll get to that another time.

We both agreed that loneliness—not to be confused with being alone (which is often a good chance to be still and reflect)—doesn’t seem like it’s good at all. Not simply the desire to “have a person,[1]” I think the loneliness we were thinking of (here I speak more for myself) is the feeling that can come anytime, anywhere—even if a person is in the midst of good friends or family. Those occasions confuse me most: while my desire to be married someday doesn’t surprise me, the fact that I can feel lonely in the very situations where I have least apparent reason is a little disturbing. Even more disturbing is the assurance I’ve gotten from married couples that even their committed relationship hasn’t erased their feelings of loneliness—a person could be in the happiest family, with the most successful of careers and the most beloved of spouses, and still feel miserably alone sometimes.

Loneliness shouldn’t be a thing, but it is a thing, most definitely. If you look at the beginning of the Story, though, you can see that it wasn’t always a thing. Genesis 1 and 2 describe a good and great God creating all things, reflecting on them, seeing that everything was good. He makes man in His own image, and says of His creation that it is very good. However, the one man is not complete by himself—“And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone…[2]” God forms a woman and institutes marriage—and for a little while, humans are not lonely. Not only do they have one another, but they have a beautiful, pure relationship with their Creator. God himself walks in their garden “in the cool of the day,” and they have neither anything to fear nor anything to hide.

Things change, though. If you know the story, you know that humans break their relationship with their Father, Creator, and God, and that, as a result, all other of their relationships are broken as well. Husbands and wives don’t go as perfectly together as they were intended; people fight and become disappointed in one another, all the while yearning to be fulfilled by “their person.” People are broken.

People are lonely.

The first time I heard the analogy of “the God-shaped hole” I was going into the seventh grade. The gist of the analogy, for anyone who hasn’t heard it, is this: we, the people, are missing something—and it’s something that the very best parts of our lives cannot replace. The loneliness we can feel at the very times we should not be lonely, is evidence of an inherent need for something outside ourselves and outside of natural explanation. As a seventh grader, I was assured that there was a reason for the emptiness that nothing else seemed to fill—it was only that my heart had a hole—a missing space for a  piece of a jigsaw puzzle, if you will—that only its Maker could fill.

Maybe it’s not a good analogy, I don’t know. I’ve heard it mocked and described as annoying or trite, and that may be for some people. I do know it lines up with what I’ve been thinking here lately—namely, that as much as I might idly wonder if a boyfriend would make me happy (and gosh darn it I am happy mostly!), I know that my longing for a whole relationship is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

I don’t know if others have experienced this, but I know what it’s like to have a relationship changed or slightly broken in some way, and feel as if there’s nothing you can do to fix things. If there were a hope that someday, that relationship would be made new and fresh and as it was intended to be, I would be so glad.

What I’m trying to say is that to trust Christ is to know that loneliness will not always be a thing. God has already done everything needed to mend our relationship with him. Once we acknowledge what Jesus Christ has done, our other relationships are given new meaning and new hope that someday—someday—they will be better and lovelier and more what they were meant to be than we could have ever dreamed.

[1] That’s an odd phrase, I know, but it’s how I think of boyfriend/girlfriend relationships sometimes.

[2]From Genesis 2, vs. 8


One thought on “On Loneliness

  1. Pingback: Dear Jo–Keep This for Next Time | The Ramblings of a Girl Named Jo

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