Several months ago, I wrote about feeling lonely and empty. I attributed this to the possibility of having no ministry and spiritual family. But now that I already have one, and I`m meeting new people and gaining new friends, I`m still feeling that same feeling. I realized that returning to the hustle and bustle of ministry life has not removed the loneliness. Although, I can say that it adds color, meaning, and dimension in my life, which gave me positive feelings of happiness and fulfillment. Yet, whenever I`m alone, doing nothing, loneliness would peek its curious head.
According to Colin Richter, a researcher on loneliness, we all experience loneliness to varying degrees, no matter how much we pretend we are not. It is part of human psyche. Loneliness is not something we can solve, it is human nature. Yet Richter added, that despite the fact that loneliness is a universal emotion, very few would willingly admit that they do get lonely. It seems embarassing to let anyone know what we really feel. Thus, we don`t openly talk about it.
Whenever I feel lonely, I become aware of that tiny pierce on my chest. In my effort to escape or avoid it, I would plunge into reading online forums, books, or other things that could distract me. Others have different ways of coping with loneliness. Some would surround themselves with friends and people, others would bury themselves with work, and still others would immerse themselves on gaming or other online activities. Loneliness is painful. Others have just become adept at spreading a blanket over it with their favorite go-to activities.
Reasons for loneliness
There are many reasons why a person would feel lonely. For one, it could be that a person has a melancholic personality or is lacking in interpersonal skills. Thus, even if there`s a desire to connect with others, she couldn`t find in herself the courage to open up to others. One other possible personality factor is a tendency to look at a glass half-empty. Despite several blessings in one`s life, a person can`t shake off the thought that something important is missing in her life.
Second, the person maybe yearning to have a meaningful connections, yet for some reasons like lack of time or length of distance, she couldn`t find a chance to be in the company of friends. Third, a person can be lonely when her present situation is not something she has set out to have. There is probably dissatisfaction in one`s situation that is coming from unmet goals, needs, or expectations. And lastly, the person may be undergoing life problems and trials. Perhaps there is a presence of illness, broken relationships, or any painful life circumstances. But despite all these causes — whether they are due to personality, social, and situational causes of loneliness — I would like to tie it all up into a spiritual perspective.
Loneliness and spirituality
Whatever type of personalities we have and whatever situations we find ourselves in, I believe that loneliness is a prompt for us to connect with God, to get to know Him, to be with Him. St Augustine once wrote to God, “You have made me for Thyself, for Thee alone my God. And restless is my heart, till it rests in Thee.” There is a void in the human heart that only God can fill. In the words of Blaise Pascal, “what else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
Loneliness brings into us the awareness of our need for God. Depending on our beliefs, it is a prompt from God that we can either ignore, suppress, or respond to. That all said, loneliness isn`t bad at all. If we want to, it can lead us to higher awareness of God`s presence in our life. It can strengthen our relationship with our Creator which can make our life even more meaningful.