Nobody likes to talk about loneliness. I don’t. I’m sure you don’t.
When I come to terms with the fact that I’m feeling lonely, I feel weak. I feel weak because loneliness causes me to ask myself why my own company is not enough, and in honestly answering that question, I have to contend with the possibility that in that moment, I don’t think that I am enough.
Loneliness makes me feel like I need people too much, and I’ve been conditioned to believe that needing people is an indication of undesirable softness – that any sign of dependency is an indication of inward feebleness that must be rectified lest anyone else know that I actually rely on someone other than myself for something. I always feel like I should be stronger than this when I’m lonely – like my desire for intimacy or meaningful human connection makes me less than who I know myself to be.
This is when I want to put on a full face of make-up and heels, undo my twistout and run to social media to post photos of me taking myself on dates and buying myself jewelry so I can pretend like solitude and treating myself was my motive all along, when in reality I was my last resort because no one else would come along. (I’m not saying any of this is wrong, but it’s all about the motive. What’s the ‘why?’ behind the post?)
The feeling of loneliness makes me face my emptiness, and that’s not something I particularly enjoy doing.
I spend a lot of time analyzing my emotions, and when loneliness popped up on my radar, I didn’t want to acknowledge it. I wanted to pretend it was something else, like I didn’t have a deeper heart issue going on. I wanted to act like it was all external, but nothing really ever is.
So I blamed people.
I blamed my friends, because feeling like people are selfish and neglecting spending time with me was easier than doing the kind of digging I needed to do. I was angry, I was hurt, I was distant, I was faking, then I was sad. And it was in the sadness that the Holy Spirit helped me to see the red flag, because assigning blame to someone else for my own emotional state is always a red flag. He helped me put down my justification and pick up self-examination.
Blaming my loneliness on someone else’s absence wasn’t helping me feel less lonely.
Here’s my unmitigated truth: I love being and feeling loved. I love feeling appreciated and seen. Quality time is my love language. Intimacy is something I crave, and the reason why I can’t have shallow relationships. I’m a deep person, I love deeply, and I thoroughly enjoy being deeply loved. But when the desire to be affirmed, loved, and appreciated is misplaced – i.e. when I go searching for these things in other people instead of in myself and primarily in Yahweh, it can cause me to sink into a self-deprecating state. I can begin to view myself as less than desirable, my thoughts become toxic, and my self-talk becomes completely contradictory to scripture. It also leaves me vulnerable to stuffing – to filling the holes of loneliness with void relationships and using people selfishly as distractions and Band-Aids. This is when we sail into someone’s chat and send a message that opens a door we know should stay closed.
I think a lot of the times loneliness manifests because we are waiting for other people to tell us what we aren’t telling ourselves. I think we yearn for words of affirmation, or signs of encouragement from an outside source, because we think that makes it more viable. Because on some level, we believe that the words we say to ourselves hold less weight than the words other people say to us.
Words from others may take away the sting of loneliness for a short while, but words from yourself are what you live with every second of every day. You are the only person who is with you at all times. Only you inhabit your mind, and only you have the power to control which thoughts stay and which don’t make the cut. You have the power to encourage yourself, to love yourself, and to be your own company. It is an amazing gift that Yahweh has given to all of humanity. We have the power to speak over ourselves. Often times we want to hear it from someone else, but I’m learning that words hold so much more power when they reverberate inside you. So that when someone comes along with their words, they are only confirming what you already say to yourself on a daily basis.
The truth is we cannot rely on people to be present all the time. Only Yahweh is good for that. But He has given us the Holy Spirit, and He was given us us. A whole You is a force to be reckoned with.
Because we are relational beings, we often want to cure loneliness by being around other people. But if you’re desolate inside, it won’t matter how many people you surround yourself with, the desolation will not go away. So I realized I had to find a way to handle my loneliness from within – I had to muster up the courage to march into my own wasteland of wanting and fulfill myself in a healthy and healing way.
So I sat down and wrote down all the things I wish someone else would say to me, and I said them to myself. It felt strange and awkward, and I don’t think it should feel that way. It kind of hurts that I’m more used to hearing criticizing, demeaning words from myself more than I am words of affirmation. I’m working on changing this – on being my own strongest ally and source of inspiration.
So here it is, my love letter to myself. I encourage you to write your own love letter, take yourself out for coffee, and read it until you realize you don’t need to fill the void of loneliness with mediocre company, someone who no longer fits into your life, or someone who proved that they didn’t deserve space in your life in the first place. Let Yahweh fill your gaps, and be open to letting Him use you to do it.
Time with you is not wasted.
You are worth investing in.
You are worth the work of intimacy.
You are worth getting to know.
You are more than a bowl of emotions – you are sure of who you are and brave enough to embrace her boldly.
You are worth fighting for.
Your words are valuable and impactful.
Your presence is infectious.
Being with you feels like coming home.
You are peace.
You are light.
You are worthy of intentional and unique love.
You are capable of incredible and impossible things.
You are not weird.
You are beautiful.
You are worth making time for.
You bring me joy.
You make me hope.
I know that Yahweh is real when I read your words.
I feel His presence when you speak.
Your life tells of His existence.
Your quirks are yours, and they are stunning.
I’m proud of you.
I see you, and I’m for you.
Yes, you can.