Identifying the source of loneliness in our lives is important. We started that process yesterday by first defining what it is and what it isn’t. To jump in further let’s examine what it really looks like in our individual lives. Most views of loneliness are in relation to an attachment to people, as briefly discussed yesterday, that is not always the case. A great number of people describe a feeling of loneliness when they are surrounded by others, even loved ones. It can develop when absolutely no changes to our social interactions have occurred. Loneliness is a deeper and more penetrating form of isolation than mere physical proximity. We can easily find ourselves placing our security in things other than people. To quote one of the early church fathers, Augustine of Hippo, “thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Our faith can become erroneously anchored in a career, a certain lifestyle, or a myriad of other things.
While its surface appearance differs from person to person, psychologists have recognized the overwhelming association between loneliness and depression, anxiety, and maladaptive behaviors. A holistic view of the body shows that if faith in God is not our foundation it affects more than just our spiritual health. It wreaks havoc on our emotional health and mental health, and not far along down the road, our physical health is impacted as well.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7
Not everything in our lives has been over-valued to the point of becoming problematic. We don’t want to, in the process of pursuing God in a greater measure, reject all He has given us and created us to be. Seeing an area of change in our lives shouldn’t result in that level of over-reaction. A more beneficial approach is to examine where we have crossed the line from enjoying a gift of God to depending on it for our security. The Bible gives us clear instructions on how to determine where we may have weakness in our lives. David modeled this in Psalm 139:23-24, when he requested of God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” God orchestrates our sanctification, which includes the elimination of false dependencies which create instability and isolation.
The pressures and trials of life are also effective indicators in helping us pinpoint areas in which we need to shift our dependence to find greater stability. During trials, it becomes easier to see what we are clinging to for safety and where we run to for sanctuary. The wisdom James to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion speaks to this point. James 1:2-4 states, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The testing of our faith clearly brings to the surface where we find stability. If it is in God, it will not falter, but if it is anything else we might feel a sway or we might experience a break. These trials give us the opportunity for adjustment and correction so that we may be “complete, lacking in nothing.”
You may look back at your life and see a distinctive pattern of behavior that reveals clear false dependencies. It could be obvious to you or could require more time in prayer and diligently seeking the Lord’s wisdom. Whichever the case may be, I would caution you to lean into God and let Him bring revelation. In John 14:16-17 Christ says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” God does not give us anything in error or without purpose. We have been given the Holy Spirit as a Helper because we need Him!
When the source our security falters there is the sense that there is nothing or no one holding us, that we are lacking support; it is isolating, which is the basis of loneliness. Our gut reaction is self-preservation. We don’t tend to want to let that person, habit, or thing in our life fall away. We want to fix it so we can return to our sense of security. That creates a cycle of insecurity that roots loneliness into the foundation of our hearts. It could even be said that addictions and sin patterns are chronic attempts to rest our security in something other than God. Many times God has revealed the effects of loneliness and misplaced dependencies in my life and I have grabbed hold of them and run off to analyze and tinker with them. Inevitably I falter and fail because I am trying repair something God wants to remove and rebuild in proper proportion. My wisdom is insufficient and my skillset is incomplete. But God is more than capable and He is faithful; He never turns away those who are seeking Him. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” We don’t get to sit back, when God opens the door it is up to us to walk through and be in agreement with the work He wants to do in ou lives.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
“Lord, thank You for Your Word and the wonderful gift of Your Spirit. You have blessed me richly and I praise Your name. You are so good to me- at all times and in all circumstances. I thank You for Your goodness and Your love. I ask that you shake loose the false dependencies You have revealed in my life. For those that are already cracked and broken producing loneliness in my life, I step back from trying to fix them. I ask that You clear them away and come into those areas. For those that are still standing, I know they will inevitably fall. I don’t want to delay in seeking correction to those areas of my life. Help me remove those barriers to a greater relationship with You. Help me persevere through this removing and rebuilding process. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.”