You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. You can have thousands of Facebook friends, and be in the company of people constantly but still not feel emotionally close or connected to anyone. That’s why people can “party” constantly and still feel lonely.
Our need for intimacy can’t be satisfied by the superficial. We were created for communion—for an exchange with God and others on a much more personal level. True intimacy comes from being known and understood and knowing others on that same level, which doesn’t come easy in a fast-paced, competitive world, where it’s hard to know who to trust or find time to invest. Close relationships have become harder and harder to build in the midst of our super busy lifestyles.
Loneliness doesn’t just affect women. In a time where there are so many ways to connect through social media, people are reporting feeling more lonely than ever. How is this? We have an innate need to connect with others on a human level. Posts and emails leave us feeling empty. Social media can help us keep connected with loved ones, but it can also help create fantasy relationships where we put our best on display for others to see, often avoiding face-to-face relationships where people can see our humanity, with all our faults and failures. It can also make others lives look glamorous and envious in comparison to ours.
Social media gives people the opportunity to build superficial acquaintances by the boatload, but it actually can inhibit us from connecting on a deeper personal level with the people that we have the greatest opportunity to find real depth with. It can even become an escape from face-time with family, children, and friends. Perhaps that is the lure of media relationships—-it can be scary to build close relationships in-person, day-to-day with the challenges that all real relationships face.
How can we build real, close, relationships that can cure feelings of loneliness? Why do we sometimes resist the thing we need? It’s easier to “friend” someone on Facebook than to actually build a friendship, mentor others, or touch lives and be touched as we do so. Relationships require work, and that can be intimidating. We risk rejection. Self-disclosure can be risky, and it’s usually easier not to take the chance. Fears of all kinds can keep us from sharing our hearts with others or caring and deeply trusting anyone. The fear of not connecting or being rejected by someone can also cause us to put up walls, or worse yet, be competitive to prove our worthiness.
But building real, valuable relationships can only happen in a non-competitive atmosphere, where no one is trying to prove they are worthy of love or have something to offer. Competition for acceptance can undermine honesty, trust, and loyalty—the stuff that all solid, satisfying relationships must have to grow. Competitive relationships just aren’t satisfying. But yet we compete.
We’ve lost our way. God created us and only He knows what will fulfill each of us and bring lasting peace and happiness to our lives. But we’ve ignored His principles and design for life and lost our way in this world. Today, we have so many breakdowns in relationships that it is no wonder women in general are unhappy with life. Women’s overall level of happiness has dropped, both relative to where they were forty years ago, and relative to men. We were created for relationship! When we pattern our lives after wrong models, we end up with the same negative outcomes.
My heart’s desire is to help people enjoy spiritual, emotional, and relational wholeness. We can live life the way God our Creator intended it. We just need to turn our hearts to His Word and regain the Titus tradition of the spiritually older women teaching the younger how to live life, and love their husbands and their families. This holds true for men as well. Women and men both need mentors.
Paul mentored Timothy as a son in the faith and helped him become his best, reaching his potential in Christ. Paul had to be willing to invest into Timothy, and Timothy had to be willing to receive instruction from Paul. And, instead of competing with his spiritual elder, he submitted his heart to be trained by Paul. He didn’t resent Paul’s correction, but welcomed it with respect acknowledging God’s plan to train him toward his destiny.
Ruth told Naomi that she would follow her and that whatever she chose, she would choose. She said, “Wherever you go, I will go. Your people will be my people and your God, my God.” Both Ruth and Timothy found God’s blessing and provision because they were loyal to their mentors and were willing to serve beyond what most people would do—they went beyond the call. It wasn’t just about what they could take for their benefit. And, their mentors wanted the best for them.
Paul exhibited honest leadership in his relationship to Timothy, and Timothy’s respect toward Paul earned him a place to be mentored. Paul’s mentorship of Timothy helped to carry the gospel to a whole new generation and took the gospel further than Paul could reach by himself. Both were the benefactors of a father/son relationship. “You have many teachers, but not many fathers (or mothers).” So many today are lonely because they lack the mentorship and friendships that make this world navigable. These relationships give us someone to celebrate life with, and someone to support us in the hard times.
We were never intended to carry the difficulties of life alone. There are those who have gone before us (mentors) and those who are walking the same path we are walking (friends) and we need them both in order to become our best, and enjoy the journey! Challenges come to every relationship, but if we choose our friends and mentors wisely and then commit to be loyal, honest, trustworthy, grateful, and faithful, God can bless our lives with the knowledge that not only can we receive His love, but we can also share it with others, and enjoy the journey together.
We can do this by learning to make real friends–laugh heartily, learn truth together, live whole and love freely. When we come into God’s Kingdom, we come into a family, the family of God. This transformation should impact every relationship in our lives! You can learn how to walk in the grace or empowerment that is yours in your marriage, family, home, friendships, and life! God has answers for our connections to people.
Ultimately our greatest joys come from relationships with those we love. There is an anointing from God to enjoy relationships, and you can have tremendous joy as you are empowered to be the friend, wife, husband, father, mother, mentor, and minister that God has called you to be!