Probably the number one thing single people struggle with is loneliness (followed closely by discontent). Loneliness is that emotional pain we experience when we are not connecting to others in the way we want to be. Loneliness is painful because intimacy is a need and with a lack of intimacy, we are left with feelings of disconnectedness, being left out, and alienated. In fact, you could define loneliness as a lack, or even the opposite of, intimacy.

“Intimacy refers to the baring of your soul to another person. Therefore it requires a high degree of openness and vulnerability … it is best described as a process of discovery, an ongoing self-revelation that continues to reinforce the bonding between two or more people … Intimacy occurs when two people delight in each other in an atmosphere of security based on mutuality, reciprocity, and total trust.” –Carolyn Koons, Single Adult Passages.

True intimacy is often elusive. Let’s face it, we have this need, this void, for intimacy that our culture has taught us to fill with all sorts of things that fall short of truly filling it. Money. Marriage. Sex. Parenthood. Success. Food. (Don’t tell me you haven’t tried to fill the pain of a break up with a cheeseburger or some ice cream. Or both.) All because the desire to know and be known is a universal desire, one hard-wired into us.

However, none of these cures work for two reasons: 1) no one person or group or thing can satisfy our deepest needs because we are all limited; and 2) only a relationship with God can bring complete wholeness. Even a relationship with God and a resultant life of godliness does not completely remove loneliness.

And loneliness is not good.

“…I noticed Adam and Eve didn’t meet right away. Moses said God knew Adam was lonely or incomplete or however you want to say it, but God did not create Eve directly after He stated Adam was lonely. This struck me as funny because a lot of times when I think about life before the Fall, I don’t think of people going around lonely. But that thought also comforted me because I realized loneliness in my own life doesn’t mean I am a complete screw up, rather that God made me this way. You always picture the perfect human being as somebody who doesn’t need anybody, like a guy on a horse out in Colorado or whatever. But here is Adam, the only perfect guy in the world, and he is going around wanting to be with somebody else, needing another person to fulfill a certain emptiness in his life. And as I said, when God saw this, He did not create Eve right away. He did not give Adam what he needed immediately. He waited. He told Adam to name the animals.” –Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What

Loneliness is not good, but it can lead to a good end. The feeling can remind us that we need one another. We can deny or embrace loneliness, but there is not way around it, so the best way out is through it. We use it to push ourselves and thus transform it. Our feelings of loneliness should drive us to solitude (times alone with ourselves and God) and the pursuit of intimate friendships.

More next week.

*I bet Rich Vincent thought I wasn’t paying attention in his Sunday School class.

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