If you asked me to share my biggest fear, I would tell you hands down that it is feeling lonely. Not the act of being alone, but the actual feeling of loneliness. In crowds, I often used to fill this way. I remember sitting in my college course wondering if anyone else felt the depth of loneliness or isolation I was experiencing. That stage of social isolation and loneliness passed. Very soon after, I started to feel more comfortable around people and more comfortable with myself.
Right now, loneliness haunts me when I am alone. On a normal week-end when Rob works, I do everything in my power to prevent feeling lonely. I over schedule myself with friends, make long to-do lists, call everyone I know, and work-out multiple times.
But sometimes, despite my best efforts to prevent feeling lonely, the feelings come on strong and dark like a stormy night in June. And tonight is no exception. But I am okay, and I think loneliness is okay too.
Loneliness is not a feeling to be avoided, but one to ride through. Looking to activities and people to fill lonely spaces can be tiring and exhausting too. Being lonely is part of the human experience. It makes us more able to connect with others; it makes us more compassionate and generous with our time. It helps us fully appreciate all the chalk-full moments we have with family and friends.
Loneliness carves space to listen to God. It creates a quiet stillness in which He can speak. When God spoke to the prophet Elijah, he chose to do so through a gentle whisper, not the wind, not an earthquake, not a fire (1 Kings 19:12) Maybe the wind, earthquake, and fire symbolize the busy parts of our life that we use to try and ignore our feelings of loneliness or our need to listen to God.
Either way, feeling lonely is okay. If God designed our emotions, he created loneliness too, and he is here in our loneliest moments.