Dinner ends and the dishwasher hums. The kids finally sleep and my husband works upstairs while I sink into my favorite living room chair alone.
I yearn to sit with a friend—to rehash my day, laugh about the silly things, and delve into deep connection about the weighty things, but I haven’t had a best friend for a long time and it’s no one’s fault but my own.
When my life fell apart in my late twenties, all my friendships vanished except one. Building new, authentic, and connected relationships over the past fifteen years has proven to be like walking up a descending escalator—climbing toward closeness for awhile, then drifting downward again, as distance and busyness block the way.
I have friends, but not daily ones. There’s a distinct difference between a once-a-month connection and a close friend. Often, I sit alone in that chair at the end of the day and loneliness crushes me like a vice.
Being alone doesn’t cause loneliness, but all lonely people feel alone.
Over the years I’ve pondered how to step onto the ascending escalator which takes me to a close friend. I dream of her finding me, pursuing me, being asked instead of doing the asking. I ache from the loneliness and long for that ache to be caused by a temporary acute virus instead of a chronic illness of my own soul.
In situations of loneliness I’ve heard it said that Jesus is all I need. It’s a tightly packaged response with an over-spiritualized and overly simplistic conclusion.
I already have Jesus in my life every day, and Jesus is not all I need.
Jesus sees me and knows me and loves me no matter what. He is with me always. He’s given me His Word to empower, instruct, and inspire me, to know His character and be reassured of His love, but He’s not here in the flesh. He’s not here to drink hot tea with me on my couch as I fold laundry in the afternoon. He can not physically walk with me in my neighborhood, and he doesn’t meet me at Starbucks for a Trenta-peach-iced-tea to talk through the hopes and dreams and disappointments of my week.
Jesus is Spirit. And He is with us, but He is not all I need.
It’s been a different season for me. I’m homeschooling without the connection of a co-op community this year—serving with my husband at a church too many miles away to be heavily involved. I’m podcasting, talking through mud stories with amazing people every week, but it’s not the same as sitting with them in person face to face as I face a mud story of my own.
There’s just something soothing about the physical presence of a friend—seeing the expressions on their face, feeling their embrace, being seen and knowing we’re not alone.
I miss that.
God made us for one another. His constant presence with us doesn’t replace the craving within us for the companionship of a friend.
It’s His design for us to enjoy relationship—to not only enjoy it, but to thrive because of it—as we listen, hold up, and encourage each other face to face.
Just as Jesus had people—his twelve—three of whom he was extremely close to, we need people, too.
If you love Jesus, read His Word, and abide in Him, but still feel the nag of a lonely heart, may you know today you are not alone. God wants to bless each one of us with deep and satisfying friendship and community, but His plan may not materialize in the way we’d imagined.
The only way to the other side of loneliness is through.
God promises to be with us in our loneliness, as we limp through our suffering, no matter how difficult it may seem.
5 Tips to Walking Through Loneliness and Finding a Friend
1. Enjoy the companionship of God in this lonely season. Read your Bible, journal, and pray
2. Embrace the stretching growth God desires to do in you during this season. Ask God to show you areas of your own heart that need His repair. Resist bitterness, resentment and anger. Surrender to change with a humble and teachable spirit.
3. Ask God to show you a potential friend to reach out to right where you are. Open your eyes to see what might be an opportunity you’d never noticed before. Be aware and don’t be afraid to look where you haven’t looked before.
4. Reach out to just one person via text, phone, or email. Take a risk. Be courageous. Go out on a limb. One thing is sure, you’re guaranteed not to find a friend if you do nothing.
5. Become the friend you long to have. Give 100%. Give as you would want given to you. Offer transparency and give it space and time to grow.
Have you been feeling lonely lately?
What tip is your biggest challenge as you pursue finding a friend?