Of all the struggles during this pandemic, the thing I have wrestled with the most is the isolation. I serve as a “sole” pastor. And there are so many times when I have felt alone. The loneliness is not just physical but spiritual. It has been a heavy weight.
One of the devil’s greatest and most successful lies is that “you are alone.” Loneliness was one of the things on my 40 Things to Give up for Lent list. And it is times like this that we are ever more susceptible to this lie of loneliness. Loneliness is an epidemic and many of us are suffering from it.
In this post, I want to suggest six ways to fight loneliness.
1. Know You Are Not Alone
Jesus tells us that he is with us always (see Matthew 28:20). You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. This is a truth to receive by faith. Loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. It is an emotion, and emotions are easily manipulated.
2. Pray About It
Since God is with you, you can talk with him about your feelings of loneliness. You will not go unheard. He will hear you, and he will help you overcome if you are willing to talk with him about it.
3. Write and Talk About It
That is what I am doing here. Many of us are reluctant to talk about our struggles. There are many reasons, such as pride and fear. But simply expressing and articulating our frustrations is therapeutic, even if it is just writing in a journal that only you will read. But I will encourage you to be willing to share your feelings with others. Many times, just talking about it can make us feel better. Our struggles and frustrations will thrive when they are hidden in the shadows. But when they are exposed to the light, they have nowhere to hide.
4. Pay Attention to Media Consumption
It does not seem like loneliness should be such a problem in today’s world. We are connected like never before. Our phones and computers enable us to interact in ways that were never possible. I thank God for these technologies. We are fortunate that we have Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube in these times of social distancing. Where would we be without them? But we need to know that these platforms are no substitute for real face-to-face interaction.
Social media rarely helps us feel more fulfilled. It often increases our sense of isolation. The interactions we have tend to be limited and superficial. Social media also encourages comparison to others, which leads to envy and discouragement.
This pandemic has also seen a surge in binge-watching things like Netflix and Amazon Prime. But when you think about it, watching endless TV is going to do little to make you feel less lonely.
5. Make the Move
When you feel down, it can be hard to find the motivation to do anything about it. Feelings of loneliness tend to paralyze us. These emotions hinder us from taking action.
But you can’t just wallow in your loneliness. Giving in to your despair will only leave you despairing. You need to engage yourself in productive activity. And you may need to force yourself to do so. But what I have found that the first step is always the hardest. Once you get going, it becomes much easier to keep going.
6. Be a Friend
Our loneliness often stems from a lack of connection with others. Many of us are simply waiting. We wait for the invitation, the phone call, the email, or the “Like” on our social media page.
But something that I know to be true is that many others are waiting for your invitation, your phone call, your email, and your “Like.” The best way to find a friend is to be a friend.
I realize that more than a few pastors have been feeling the same way that I have been feeling. The only reason that I am isolated is because I chose to be isolated. Sometimes God stirs certain emotions in your heart to minister to others with a similar need (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Don’t worry about me. I have great joy in the Lord. And writing this has given me some practical steps to take. It has convinced me that I need to stop making excuses and engage and connect with other brothers in ministry. And if you are a brother in ministry and are struggling with loneliness in ministry, do not hesitate to reach out. I would be glad to provide a listening ear.
Whether you are a pastor or not, how about you? Have you been feeling lonely? What do you do to fight against the feelings of isolation? Share in the comments on this post.