Authored by Evelyn Sichrovsky (a guest contribution)
During my teenage years, I went through a period of time when I struggled with intense loneliness. As the third oldest in a large family, I was nearly always surrounded by my younger brothers and sisters, so it’s not exactly that I lacked for company. I loved my siblings and enjoyed being with them, but I longed for close friendships with those my own age. I craved having a best friend with whom I could share my deepest dreams, hopes, sorrows, joys, and secrets.
None of our neighbors had children near my age and I, quiet and shy by nature, did not fit in so well with my lively, extroverted classmates. I often prayed for a friend, and tried to be friendly to whomever I came in contact with. But time passed and, despite my hopes and efforts, my prayer remained unanswered.
One night, as I lay in bed listening to the clock hands tick-tock their way around the clock face, I felt the loneliness to an intensity that seemed more than I could bear. I pulled the covers over my head and let tears fall. I felt so sad and alone, and from the hollow, gnawing ache inside of me, I sent up a silent prayer.
Suddenly, I was no longer in my bed, but in another place. I found myself in a beautiful, peaceful garden, following a stone pathway as it wound through the colorful array of grass and flowers. Looking ahead, I saw someone walking toward me. He was very tall, and He glowed with a light that was brighter than the sun yet gentler than the moon. When He reached me, He gave me a long embrace. Without words, He conveyed warmth of deep love and utter acceptance that reassured me and allayed my fears. I remember thinking, He must be Jesus!
He turned and continued walking down the pathway, motioning for me to follow Him. We walked on until we reached a small river, beside which He knelt and began to dig away the earth with His hands. Soon His fingers revealed a beautiful pearl. It was nearly the size of my fist, and iridescent rainbow colors swirled across its milky surface as it caught the sunlight. He lifted the pearl and gave it to me with both hands. With a smile He said, “This is the gift of loneliness.”
All at once, I opened my eyes and found myself back in my bed, but the vivid memory of the vision remained with me. I felt I had truly been there. This experience comforted me and changed my perspective. I had always viewed loneliness as nothing but a pain. It dawned on me that what seemed like an ugly thorn bush could also blossom roses. Slowly I began to see my loneliness not as a curse, but as a gift that Jesus wanted to give me at that time in my life.
Throughout the following months, I learned to draw my comfort and confidence from Jesus, His love, and His Word. My lonely moments became special times of talking to Him and listening to His voice in my heart. I found Him to be my best friend with whom I could share my innermost fears, hopes, and secrets, knowing that He would always love and accept me for who I was. Thinking about His amazing, unconditional love for me filled me with wonderful peace, assurance, and joy, which replaced the sadness, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation that I had been struggling with.
I came to the realization that Jesus’ love for us is so great, and He wants us to be happy. Jesus had friends when He was on Earth, and He wants us to have friends, too! Friendship and companionship are His gifts to us, for He knows how much meaning, strength, and joy these blessings add to our lives. Having friends whom I can share great times with and whom I can also depend on during the tough times makes life worth living.
Yet everyone—even the most sociable, gregarious person—experiences loneliness at some time. Maybe you’ve moved to a new city and are attending a new school. It takes time to form friendships with new classmates and neighbors, and in the meantime, it’s natural to feel lonely. Or maybe you have plenty of friends, but sometimes you have struggles that can’t be put into words or that you feel no one else would really understand. In times of loneliness, Jesus wants to draw us to Him. He wants to become our best and truest friend, the one we can always turn to and who will never let us down. He uses times of loneliness to solidify and strengthen our friendship with Him, because He knows that this friendship will carry us through all that life brings our way.
I’ve found that spending time with Jesus guards us from the emotional hurt that loneliness can cause. Being lonely can make us doubt whether we are worth being loved or cause us to worry that we are inferior to others in some way, which can lead us to withdraw from others or even spiral into depression. I’ve have found comfort in the Bible, which tells us that we are priceless and are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”1 We are so loved by Jesus that He chose to die for our sins. Dwelling on these truths always reassures me and boosts my confidence.
I also think that loneliness can make us better friends, because we know what it’s like to be in need of friendship. We will come to treasure and appreciate friends so much more than if we’d never felt lonely. Loneliness can also give us empathy for those who feel rejected by others or who are unpopular. Looking back, I can see that my friendships have benefited from His priceless “gift of loneliness.” Those solitary times taught me to appreciate others in a way that I otherwise would not. They’ve also enabled me to empathize with others in their struggles, to comfort them as Jesus comforted me.2
If you are struggling with loneliness, you don’t need to despair! Remind yourself that Jesus loves you more deeply than anyone ever could and understands you better than anyone else. You may discover that this time of loneliness is a gift in disguise. His gifts in disguise come to us with infinite love, and through them we can gain treasures that will far outlast our trials.
1 Psalm 139:14
2 2Corinthians 1:4
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International