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Living alone and depressed

I lost my wife long ago. I was living immersed in work, now I work from home. I chased my career for years and cut off my friends because most of them have families. My family is away; I live in a city in another country. How can I deal with this miserable life? Holidays especially are very, very hard for me.

Living alone can be hard. For anyone of any age group. God designed every Christian to have a partner. One of the first things God declared as ‘not good’ in the Bible was for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) He established a relationship with Adam and then provided him with a wife. God’s plan was for you to have a meaningful relationship with Him AND others.

God never intended for you or me to live disconnected from others. Alienation was a result of the fall. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were alienated from God and began having problems in their relationship – blaming one another. All broken relationships are rooted in sin.

Loneliness is a real struggle for many Christians who are in a season of singlehood. Don’t be ashamed. But also don’t respond to your loneliness in sinful ways. You are not alone. Seek healthy relationships, but above all – seek Christ.

That said, loneliness is not the same as being alone.  A person can be alone, and yet not be lonely. Conversely, one can be with many people and still feel lonely. Loneliness can be self-inflicted.

If you do not try to make friends or stay true and connected to the ones in your life, you won’t have any: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…”(Proverbs 18:24) .

Intimacy with God is necessary in order to develop proper relationships with others. You will never be able to develop positive horizontal relationships with others until your vertical relationship with God is right.  The only time Jesus expressed loneliness was when He was on the cross, alienated from the Father because He was bearing the sins of the world (Matthew 27:46).

Pray about your’s and your family’s loneliness. Bind the spirits of isolation and self-pity that develop through loneliness. Release the comfort of the Holy Spirit who lives within you to operate in your lives. You need to deal with the causes too. While death of your wife caused this, you are still waiting for a marriage. Both are hard.

Ask yourselves: Are you isolating yourself from old friends who loved and cared for you? Do you harbour a superior or unforgiving attitude?  Are you staying too busy and disconnected from people? Have difficult circumstances–such as a tragedy or death–caused you to withdraw from others?  Are you depressed because you are not doing the right that GOD wants you to do – get right with people?

We cannot cut off dear ones and then blame God or people for our loneliness. If you had a fulfilling and nourishing friendship which you walked away from, you need to make amends. Having a pet is good, but it can never replace a human’s care. Please restore all broken relationships.  In it lies your healing – with God and man. If your loneliness is because of alienation from someone, seek to restore the relationship through forgiving and seeking forgiveness. Develop godly friendships. Foster positive relationships with people of both sexes. Be more giving. Think of others first and reach out. People like that are always happier.

Most Christian singles really struggle with loneliness. What compounds this problem is that some feel ashamed for feeling lonely. Shouldn’t Christ be enough? Is our loneliness a sign of weakness? How you respond to your loneliness, is where the good and the bad happen. God desires to use loneliness during singleness to draw each Christian closer to him, to develop them in new ways, and to cause them to be in the healthy relationships for which they were designed. Learn how to be a true friend. The biblical emphasis on relationships is evident when we note the number of times the words “one another” occurs, particularly in Paul’s letters.  We are commanded to:

-love one another: John 13:35

-be devoted to one another: Romans 12:10

-honour one another: Romans 12:10

-live in harmony with one another: Romans 12:16

-comfort one another: 1 Thessalonians 4:18

-encourage one another: Hebrews 3:13

-stir up one another to love and good works: Hebrews 10:24

-show hospitality to one another: 1 Peter 4:9

-employ the gifts of God for the benefit of one another: 1 Peter 4:10

-clothe yourself with humility towards one another: 1 Peter 5:5

-pray for one another: James 5:16

-confess your faults to one another; James 5:16

-speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs: Ephesians 5:19

-submit to one another: Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 5:5

-consider others better than yourself: Philippians 2:3

-be concerned about the interests of others: Philippians 2:4

-bear with one another: Colossians 3:13

-teach one another: Colossians 3:16

-build up one another: Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11

-be likeminded towards one another: Romans 15:5

-accept one another unconditionally: Romans 15:7

-admonish one another:  Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16

-care for one another: 1 Corinthians 12:25

-serve one another: Galatians 5:13

-bear one another’s burdens: Galatians 6:2

-forgive one another: Ephesians 4:2, 32; Colossians 3:13

-be patient with one another: Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13

-be kind and compassionate to one another: Ephesians 4:32

Use loneliness as a motivation to pursue what God has made you for. What are you supposed to do with this loneliness? Loneliness, along with all other unwanted feelings, is a gift in disguise meant to motivate you. God has a specific purpose in mind when he allows us to experience difficult feelings like loneliness. If Paul would not have had a thorn in his flesh, he would never have called out to God the way he did nor learned to rely on him for power in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Get involved with a church, attend a Bible study, or become part of a prayer group. Many friendships are formed through association with others in the church. Start a special interest group in your church or office and recruit others who enjoy doing what you like to do – even online. Serve others. Squash self-pity and isolation by serving others. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a food kitchen. Visit the elderly and orphans. Tutor a child. Volunteer for missions, prison ministry, or for service in your church. The opportunities are endless and as you put yourself out there to serve, you will develop positive relationships with others. If you leave it for longer, you will be the loser.

Don’t go into any relationship wondering what you can get out of it. Go into it, hoping to give His love. There is so much joy in giving!

Don’t deny your loneliness as it will only embitter you. The problem with this denial tactic is that it builds unhealthy resentment towards the opposite sex, towards your friends in happy relationships and towards God. When you constantly force your normal emotions down, you will feel like you need to avoid and reject everything that might trigger feelings of loneliness.

When your best friend gets engaged, you stop hanging out with her because you want to avoid being hurt when you see her experiencing what you desire. Rather than pray about your desire to be married and continue be a committed friend, you neglect this area of your walk with God because you fear what HE might say. None of these responses are healthy. Avoiding triggers is no cure to loneliness in Christian singlehood.

God is NOT A KILLJOY. You can tell your Loving Heavenly Father if you want to marry. Say sorry to Him for cutting off dear ones. Face your fears and don’t bury true emotions under lies. Only the truth will set you free. Denying your loneliness as a Christian single only cuts you off in greater ways from the people God designed you to need and be with. If you deny your loneliness, you will hinder yourself from depending on God in the ways he wants. Reach out to God and people.

God doesn’t want us to be victims to our feelings. Feelings are God’s healthy warning signs that we are lacking something we need. Much of the time you feel certain ways, like lonely, because you are lacking something you were made for. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Address the issue and seek out whatever you are lacking.

If you feel lonely in your Christian singlehood, this means you are lacking something good in your life. Don’t try to just stop the warning signs (the feeling of loneliness, missing old friends); address the root issue and connect with God and people, so it goes away.

Prolonged loneliness during singlehood is a sign that God has designed you for marriage. There is nothing wrong with pursuing marriage. Ask God to connect you to the right person. Use your loneliness as fuel. Yes, to seek God first, but to also find the man or woman God probably has for you. Marriage is one of the most significant, deepest relationships a human can experience with another human. But marriage is not the only significant relationship that our hearts were made to need. Meanwhile, supplement your lack of a spouse with other good relationships, with people of both sexes. Be practical, proactive, and avoid passivity.

Use your loneliness to grow with Christ. The greatest blessing singleness offers is a life that is less cluttered and thus more open to spending time with Jesus. Marriage will grow your walk with God too, but singleness has its own unique blessings that you won’t have during any other time in life. Let this season prepare you for a great, giving marriage. Loneliness should first and foremost draw you to God. He loves you. He wants to spend time with you. He wants to be your everything. He might not take away your loneliness that stems from your singleness. But you better believe he wants to walk through that loneliness right by your side, drawing you closer to himself through it all.

Loneliness can be one of the greatest blessings we can ever have because it can drive us to pursue our greatest need – a personal relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Romans 8:35)

It’s one thing to read and memorise Bible verses like these, but your loneliness has given you an opportunity to experience God’s closeness. Don’t waste that opportunity. You and I are never really alone.  Jesus promised to be with us always and He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and dwell within us (John 14:17) HE journeys with us.

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”   (Hebrews 13:5)

You were never alone – not even in your mother’s womb! And you can do something about it, so don’t delay. Hope this season will be the beginning of many happy years for you.

We answer your questions about faith, marriage, relationships, parenting, emotional issues, financial crisis or any spiritual struggle here. Have a counselling query? Ask us here, by email [email protected]

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