Well, I had this thing written up. Where I brought up the days when I was on a dance team and when there was one late night in the studio where I was failing at doing pirouettes (you know, that fancy spin ballerinas do) across the floor. And I talked about how I was struggling because I couldn’t focus on one thing so I kept getting dizzy and how that’s kind of like life… we get distracted. It was all coming out rather poetic, if I may say so myself. But as I sit here on this evening, I know that there is something I should write about. I know there is a topic heavily on my heart these days, but what am I doing… avoiding it. Because it’s something we all feel too often, yet don’t really talk about it. And that is loneliness. The word itself sounds rather depressing. I have come to see that the word holds this heavy weight. And that it’s the one thing that just about every human fears the most.
This past year I moved to the biggest city in the United States, where there are 8,550,405 other people also residing here. Yet since moving here, what I have heard way more times than I can count is the phrase, “New York City is one of the loneliest places.” I have met some truly incredible people here with insane amounts of talent, yet to hear about how lonely they feel most of the time breaks my heart. Most people move to New York to pursue one dream or another. There is a reason you come here, usually it’s not just to spend all your savings for fun.
I was spending time with one of my best friends at home recently. She happens to be about 10 (give or take a few) years older than me. Side note, I would 10/10 recommend finding a friend who is following Jesus and a little further along in life than you. The wisdom you can receive from a friendship like that… wow. Anyways, she has one of the most beautiful and God glorifying marriages I have ever seen. One I dream about having something like someday. We were talking about me coming home to suburban life where it feels like so many are getting engaged, polar opposite from the city of New York. She turned to me and asked in a very sincere voice, “Do you feel lonely?” I explained how of course there are some nights when I do or when I start comparing my life to those around me…that is usually what leads to the feeling of loneliness the quickest. But when I face the truth it’s more the fear I have of loneliness. I said something like, not really but I have this fear that I’ll never get married and be lonely (ahh, what most of the girls not currently engaged say). She became completely honest with me and went on to telling me that the loneliest season she has ever experienced in her life happened when she was married. She said, “Marriage is wonderful do not get me wrong. But you marry another human. You can’t place those expectations on them.”
I’m not married, so I can only take others’ word on it not being able to turn off loneliness. I am, however, chasing after a long-time-in-the-making dream, and sometimes I find myself searching for belonging in that. But it only fills the desire temporarily. I can also sometimes find myself searching for belonging in friendships. But I look back to seasons of my life where I remember feeling lonely, and some of those seasons happened when I lived in close corners to almost all of my best friends. It is all becoming so clear to me that loneliness can, and often does, happen when you are around people. This whole concept makes the world stop and stumble with frustration. We’ve tried it all. We search for the cure to loneliness in relationships, in going after our dreams, in friendships. These things are good, but they don’t seem to take the loneliness we sometimes feel away.
Well here is the truth I am learning all over again, and I want to share with you. We were not designed to be fulfilled by this world. The loneliness we so often feel is more than a feeling; it is a longing that has been placed inside us all. And in fact, the Lord placed it there. He wants us to fully see, and experience, that nothing other than Him will fill that emptiness. Not another human, not a reached goal or dream, not a lot of friends or popularity…. Nothing will completely take away the loneliness. Besides Jesus Himself. He created the soul, and therefore He knows how to satisfy it. “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16).
Jordan Lee who writes Soul Scripts has said, “I’m a firm believer that the condition of loneliness has very little to do with a relationship status. But everything to do with God calling us to be alone with Him.” And not only will we be satisfied by being with Him (as if that’s not enough), but our hearts will “flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38)! Perhaps these gifts we’re given in life, relationships and dreams and such, were not created to completely satisfy us, but rather to point us to the source, the One who does fulfill us. And to me that is so freeing. I don’t want to get married one day with the pressure to take someone’s loneliness away. Because I know I can’t. But God can. Same goes with a friendship, or whatever it may be at the time. And I only hope that I will be that person to remind those around me that He can and will satisfy us. I read a quote recently (with an unknown author) that said, “If we knew how deeply we were loved by God, we would never feel lonely again.” May you be reminded by Him in the days to come just how loved you are. And let me tell you, it is a lot.
words by Megan Sauers and photo by Kate Bartley