In May of 2014, I sat down to write a list of all the lies I’d ever believed about myself or God because of my singleness. I countered it with a list of truths about Jesus that I’d learned because of those lies.
As I was writing the list (which eventually became this blog), I started thinking about what a unique situation I have (Translation: how weird I am). “For sure I’m the only 31-year-old virgin in the WHOLE WORLD,” I groaned.
And as I continued on with the list, I felt lonelier and lonelier. I’ve never been one to wallow in loneliness, but I’ve certainly felt all alone even in the midst of crowds, family, or friends. “If only I had a man,” I would think, “I’d have someone to talk to/hang out with/escape with.”
Loneliness has led some of my friends to drastic decisions: “I called my ex-girlfriend because I was lonely,” “I married him because I just didn’t want to be alone,” “We slept together because we were both lonely.”
While the most drastic thing my loneliness has ever led to was probably an ice-cream and Netflix binge, I certainly understand the need to fill my man-gap with SOMEthing because I feel like I’m the ONLY one in the HISTORY of the world to ever be THIS alone.
Of course that feeling is a lie. All I have to do is call my mom to remember that someone loves me; wait for my roommate to get home to have someone to snuggle with; post a generic invitation on Facebook to go to a movie with someone.
But there are times when those things aren’t enough, when even my 600 Facebook friends and half a dozen siblings and the women I live with aren’t sufficient to remind me that I’m not the only 30+ perpetually single person in the world (which is ironic, since one of my roommates was single until she was 33).
In those times, the truth I cling to is this: Jesus died lonely on a cross so that I would never have to be alone.
If anyone knows what it’s like to be lonely, Jesus does. Displaced from heaven (John 1:1-14), misunderstood by His earthly family (Mark 3:31-35), betrayed by a friend (Matthew 26:47-50), abandoned by everyone except His mom (Mark 14:50), He hung bloody on a cross and clung to the closeness of God the Father – only to have that ripped away from him before He breathed His final breath (Matthew 27:46).
Why? Because He was getting ready to send His Holy Spirit to me, so I would never, ever have to be alone (John 14:16-18).
I’m not saying I’m never going to be lonely again – but ever since the day I realized this truth, I’ve never been lonely for long. My feelings may tell me I’m alone, but the Holy Spirit reminds my soul that I am not.
I’m loved by the God of the universe, Who made me (Psalm 139:14); I’m rescued by the Son of God, Who experienced loneliness on my behalf (Matthew 26:56); I’m cared for by the Holy Spirit, Who will never forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).
So here’s that truth again: Jesus died lonely on a cross so that I would never have to be alone in this lifetime. And He rose from the dead so I would never be alone in eternity.
I was going to end my post there, and I’d started to think about next week’s post. But then I was reading a book called Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, and two thoughts struck me while I was reading the chapter by David Powlison.
1. In our suffering (whatever it may be), one of the most helpful things is when people come alongside of us and say, “I know what you’re going through. I’ve been through [something similar]” or “I’ve suffered greatly, and in the fact of suffering can at the very least empathize with you.”
In that very act of coming alongside someone who is lonely (and empathizing with them), the loneliness is dispelled. All it takes is for someone to say to me, “I remember being lonely when I was single,” and I’m all of the sudden not alone.
That’s why Jesus’ lonely time on the cross is soooo important: because He can say to me, “I know what it’s like to be alone,” and I no longer feel like the loneliest person EVER because NO ONE understands.
2. With the very fact of this blog, I have the privilege of coming alongside every single reader who has ever gone to bed lonely, woken up lonely, flipped through the channels and heated up leftovers lonely.
Since May of this year, I’ve gone
- from asking God “Why me?” Why am I lonely? Why am I single? Why am I the one who has to suffer like this to be able to minister to people?
- to asking Jesus, “Why You?” Why would you come to earth? Why would you save me, a sinner? Why would you choose loneliness in order to love me?
- to asking the Holy Spirit, “Why not me?” Powlison writes,
“Why not me? Why not this? Why not now? If in some way, my faith might serve as a […] night-light in a very dark world, why not me? If my suffering shows forth the Savior of this world, why not me? If I have the privilege of filling up the sufferings of Christ? If he sanctifies to me my deepest distress? If I fear no evil? If he bears me in his arms? If my weakness demonstrates the power of God to save us from all that is wrong? If my honest struggle shows other strugglers how to land on their feet? If my life becomes a source of hope for others? Why not me?”
Being single is HARD. Sometimes, it SUCKS. And sometimes, it’s LONELY. But the thing that I’ve learned lately – and especially since May – is that nothing else drives me to Jesus more on a daily basis than the thought of being single (alone) for the rest of my life (or for the next few more minutes).
But if my singleness drives me to Jesus, then it is worth it. And if it reminds anyone else (single or not) that they’re not alone, or points anyone else to Jesus, then – quite seriously – it is worth EVERYthing.
So here’s my epiphany this week: in my lonely moments AND in my opportunity to dispel it in other people, I get to know Jesus more.
Take THAT, singleness.