Updated: Aug 14, 2019
I was talking to one of my friends and fellow ministers to women this morning on the phone. Kirsten has served our church faithfully as a teacher and small group leader. Her passion for seeing women experience emotional healing through the love of God is contagious.
This Thursday, I’m speaking at a large women’s event called Awaken: Encouragement, and I was telling her of my plan to pitch one of her classes from the stage. I believe women who are struggling with loneliness would benefit from the groups Kirsten and a team lead through the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality course ( by Peter Scazzero). Sometimes, we struggle with loneliness because we don’t recognize our own behaviors that push people away. Some of us have issues with honesty, intimacy, emotional transparency – and then we walk into a Bible study or a community gathering looking to make friends, but we sabotage ourselves. This class is designed to help people recognize and overcome some of these behaviors.
Kirsten agreed that this course would be helpful, but said something profound that I profoundly agree with, and I’ll paraphrase it. If we go out into the world desperately lonely and looking for relationships, that desperation can make us hard to connect to. Kirsten said she finds that – more than developing good relationship skills -- time spent quietly with God fills her heart with a sense of being loved and gives her peace. Then she can be present enough to connect with others in a healthy way. God himself helps her overcome loneliness.
My book All My Friends Have Issues concludes with a chapter on prayer. I advocate for the same truth Kirsten experiences: By praying for God to meet my needs for love, I take some of the pressure off my friendships. I wrote, “Friendships are a way that God meets my desires, but he meets my need for love first with himself. If I go into my friendships feeling unloved, totally anxious, and insecure, there isn’t a girl in the world who’s going to be able to love me well enough.”
Here’s the rub for many people who struggle with loneliness: They don’t know how to connect with God or people. Maybe they have even been turned off of God by God’s people. Someone in the church hurt them, and now God’s face is clouded by human characteristics.
I have some advice and good news to offer: You can pursue God and people simultaneously. They work together. God uses safe people to correct our misperception of Him, while also filling our hearts with his love.
So pursue both God and people! AT THE SAME TIME.
Singer/songwriter Ne-yo penned and performs this song that often gets stuck in my head:
Much as you blame yourself, you can’t be blamed for the way that you feel
Had no example of a love that was even remotely real
How can you understand something that you never had…
Girl let me love you
And I will love you
Until you learn to love yourself.
If you've never experienced love from other people, God's love will feel unattainable too. So this song is not only romantic and beautiful, it contains truth: that experiencing another's unconditional love can heal us until we understand our worth.
But its only half the equation. Only God can love us fully. Human love without the healing power of God is as effective as pouring sand into a black hole. My friends, husband, children, aren't up to that job. Even Ne-Yo would probably get tired of singing this song every day. Asking God to meet my needs for love is one of the ways I take responsibility in my relationships, recognizing that I need to seek more than one source of love.
You were designed to need God's love, and the good news is, He’s willing to give it, from unlimited, inexhaustible resources. Seek and you will find.