You are nice to people and people are nice to you, but somehow you seem to lack meaningful friendships. You long for someone with whom you might share spiritual discussion, study for a class at school, or go fishing. It seems nobody ever does anything with you, and you feel disappointed and perhaps even lonely.
While we need times of personal solitude, loneliness gives us a sense of deficiency and frustration, which, at times, can overwhelm us to the point of tears. In Genesis 2:18, being alone was recognized by God as “not good.” While this hardly means “evil,” it at least tells us we were created as relational beings. God then created Eve, a suitable companion and counterpart for Adam. As much as we wish, we will probably not be waking up with a friend at our side as he did, but there are some Biblical principles we can learn which will make our experiences more joyful and help us develop meaningful relationships.
While it includes isolation, loneliness does not always go away when we mingle with crowds. Most of us can even smile and churn up cheerful conversation, and yet feel lonely within. This means loneliness is a condition inside ourselves, not necessarily due to the fact that no one talks to us. This condition keeps us from creating close friendships, even though we really want genuine companionship, not superficial conversations. So, what can we do about our loneliness and lack of friends?
Trust the Best Friend: “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Prov 18:24, ESV). Your Savior will never leave you, nor forsake you. The most necessary of all relationships is a spiritual one with your Creator, who formed you in your mother’s womb, knows every hair on your head (Matt 10:30), and died for your sins on the cross.
Therefore, by reading and meditating on the precious truths in His Word, we can comprehend what Paul expressed in Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him.” What a balm for the lonely heart to resort to the friend of sinners and the father of orphans. With Him, no anxiety is too small, no anguish too large, and no tear unnoticed. He is never too busy and He never fails those who hope in His mercy. He Himself knew rejection and betrayal as He walked this planet. If you have neglected your relationship with Him, it is to your own detriment. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, ESV). More important than your influence in social circles is your identity as a blood-bought child of God.
Avoid a Negative Outlook: Perhaps the easiest path for a lonely person is to indulge in self-pity. Yet there is little else as debilitating as a self-focused mindset. Yes, you may have real heartaches and emotional pain. But an important first step is becoming a stronger individual, spiritually and emotionally. Self-pity is a fleshly propensity, and we are to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14, ESV).
Never assume your friendships are shallow and everyone else’s are wonderful. With friendship comes the necessity to give and take and to forgive. Just because two people look enviably happy does not mean their friendship never has difficulties. Relationships take work. In fact, as you become close to other people, your faults, many of which you were oblivious to, will be pointed out. However, “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov 27:6, KJV).
Use Your Time Wisely: Your “alone” time can be invested wisely. There are many worthy endeavors, but a comprehensive grasp of Scripture is a noble pursuit, and one you will never regret. While others are hardly able to read their Bible without being interrupted by texts from their friends, you can devote your full attention to meditating on the Scriptures. Unhindered by peer pressure, you can focus on becoming more like Christ. Investing your time wisely will prepare you to be a true friend to others. Do you have traits which drive friends away? Is it your tendency to dominate conversation, to take advantage of friends, or to stretch the truth? If so, strive, by God’s grace, to change.
Be a True Friend: “A friend loves at all times” (Prov 17:17, ESV). Let’s start with people you already know well. Concentrate on being a true friend to those people. If you have siblings, they are a great starting point. No doubt there are others with whom you interact at school and at assembly meetings. Ask a person about his or her life. Most people find it easy to talk about themselves, especially if someone takes an interest them. You may have to listen to things you don’t really care about, but true friends are good listeners. “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15, ESV). Friendships must be maintained by two people in order to be meaningful. If you want to improve your friendships, you may need to move outside your comfort zone. Take the initiative and approach someone first. And smile!
By being authentic and focusing on others, you will become the kind of person with whom others want to be friends. Do not try to imitate someone else in order to be accepted. Be who you are. God is able to do amazing things in you and through you. By being sincere and faithful, you will find your relationships with other Christians, co-workers, and acquaintances move to deeper levels and perhaps evolve into valuable friendships. Psalm 68:6 tells me “those who are without friends, God puts in families” (BBE).
Help a Lonely Person: We all have needs which cannot adequately be met without relationships. Those who are lonely or live alone feel the weight of these needs more keenly. Emotionally, we need affirmation of our value as a person in the roles we fill. Physically, we appreciate handshakes and hugs – recognition of our need to be touched and loved. Spiritually, we benefit from Biblical teaching. Lonely people are susceptible to depression, and “heaviness in the heart of a man makes it stoop, but a good word makes it glad” (Prov 12:25, ESV). Rather than talking to others about their lack of friends, be a friend. Show an interest in the things concerning them. “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2, ESV).