The current pandemic has ravaged our social lives. We have been limited in the times and places that we can be with others. And the necessity of wearing masks has compounded these difficulties, limiting our ability to recognize people, read social cues, and respond to facial emotions. Even the most introverted of us have felt the sting of this degree of isolation.
How can believers navigate the darkness of loneliness? What tools do we have to fight the feelings of isolation that we may be struggling with?
Here are three suggestions.
Spend time with your closest Friend.
Meditate on God’s Word and study His love for you—the most true, most important, most understanding love you’ll ever know. Read, re-read, and memorize passages of Scripture. Align your thoughts with the truth of the Word. Take confidence in the hope you find there.
Here are a few passages to get you started.
Think deeply about the good things that God has worked in your life, both physical and spiritual, and then write out those benefits. As you talk to God in prayer, allow this list to fuel your expressions of praise and gratitude.
Along with the good things, record your questions, doubts, and fears. Pray through these, watching how God answers. He cares for you and wants to bear your burdens (1 Peter 5:7).
Guide your thoughts.
Build a good relationship with silence. Rather than seeking distraction, fill that silence with activities that help you think clearly and more positively.
- Take a walk in a place with fresh air and greenery. Light exercise and a little bit of God’s Creation can do wonders for your wellbeing.
- Do something quiet and enjoyable that helps your mind stay in the moment. Whether it’s gardening, sketching, painting, cooking, whittling, knitting, or tinkering with an engine, find some light handiwork you enjoy, and focus on the good right in front of you.
- Keep a small, private notebook in which to write your thoughts. Lay down your problems before God. Even if those problems seem to have no clear solution, getting your thoughts down on paper can bring clarity and relieve the need to rehearse them endlessly in your mind. Focus on the blessings in your life, and write to yourself as if you were a friend giving advice to another.
During quiet times, while doing things that you enjoy, your brain can handle most kinds of stress. Don’t try to tackle those problems when your brain isn’t ready for it. Don’t try to work through emotionally-charged issues right before bed—or at 3 AM. Make silent, thoughtful moments a regular part of your schedule. Consider it mental maintenance.
Build deeper friendships.
Although we must think creatively about building friendships at this time, don’t let difficulty turn into laziness. For Christians, friendship is a spiritual exercise built on the understanding that we were not made to exist alone — we need one another. It requires grace and humility to receive care from others.
One option to intentionally deepen these friendships is to take advantage of the outdoors. Walk with a friend at a park or hike a local trail. Take a bike ride together or just find a spot to sit on a bench and talk. Another option — use video chat technology to have deep, meaningful conversations with people who care about you. Often helping others can reduce loneliness, so ask others about their struggles with loneliness and pray together for grace to endure. Share Scriptures that have been helpful and encourage each other’s gratitude. Reach out to your pastor or other spiritual mentor—it’s okay to ask for prayer and help.
In loneliness, the worst thing to do is nothing. Take steps toward engaging with Scripture and Christian friends. Pray for grace and courage to move toward the light and warmth of God’s love shown to you in His Word and through your brothers and sisters in Christ.
This post adapted from Love and Truth.