"Turn to me and show me your favor, I am lonely and hurting." Psalm 25:16 (NIRV)
Lonely. It's not a word I thought I'd ever use to describe myself, but that's just where I was.
For many years after a hard move, I felt alone.
I had always had close friends, and the absence of intimate friendship left me feeling sore-hearted. I longed to have someone who could meet me for coffee spontaneously or help me expend some of my many daily words on the phone. I craved a woman who "got me" and would both listen and share.
Over time, I learned a lot about re-establishing friendships, and most days I feel connected and content. Recently, though, I read an editorial published in USA Today that included information from a fascinating but sad study. This study published by the American Sociological Review cited statistics that showed half of Americans only have two close friends. Even more heartbreaking is that one out of four Americans say that they don't have any close friends.
Not a single one. That's a lot of lonely souls and hurting hearts.
So, how can we be part of solving this epidemic problem?
If you're lonely...
Here's the advice that I gave myself over and over during my lonely days, because I believed they were true. When you don't have a friend, BE the friend to others that you would like to have.
There were things I told myself over and over during my hard time. "Amy," I'd say...
• "Would you love a friend who takes time to show that she cares by picking up the phone and asking about your day? Then pick up the phone and ask about someone's day."
• "Would you love a friend who keeps confidences and is trustworthy? Then be trustworthy."
• "Would you love a friend who asks you to go shopping (or to the movies, or for a walk...) at the spur of the moment? Then ask someone to go along when you go do those things."
It's easier to stay isolated sometimes than to reach out, especially if you've been hurt or disappointed many times. I know too well. But I want to encourage you to reach out, show love and care about others.
God taught me so many things during my loneliness. I learned to be more dependent on Him. I learned to appreciate the friendship of my family more. I took a hard look at some things that weren't so wonderful about myself and really worked to change those things.
During lonely times of life, be intentional about connecting to God and others. There's so much to be learned in these times.
If you're not lonely...
Remember today that many people are lonely. Remember one in four women would say she doesn't have a single close friend. Think about it in terms of your neighborhood. If there are 40 women who live near you, 10 of them believe that they don't have a friend in the world. Could God be calling you to be that friend?
Look for ways to open your circle of friends to new people. Watch for that new woman at church sitting by herself, the woman at work who eats lunch alone, or the neighbor who never seems to be invited. Reach out to someone new today, and be part of one less life feeling lonely today.
Dear Lord, You are the friend who is closer than a brother. In this time of loneliness and seeming friendlessness, show me how precious friendship with You can be. Please teach me everything I need to learn in this phase of life. Would you also prepare a friend for me and prepare me to be a trusted, valued friend? In Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you are lonely, take a step to be around people with whom you have things in common. Sign up for a class, join a book club or attend a women's small group at your church.
If you have a close circle of friends, plan a Silver and Gold get together. (Remember the old Girl Scout song? "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold!")
Is God truly my best friend? Have I let Him be enough for me? What could He teach me about friendship with Him through loneliness?
When is the last time I included someone new into my circle of friends?
Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes." (NIRV)
Ecclesiastes 4:10, "Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn't have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!" (NIRV)
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