On Loneliness

We live in a world of busyness, a bustling world filled with constant music and TVs and talking and noise, a world where we can communicate instantly via cellphone or the internet. We can play a game with a stranger in China, or video chat with a relative in Germany. We can seek friendships with those who live across two oceans. And yet, despite the billions of other people in this world, hundreds of coworkers and fellow parishioners and neighbors, dozens of friends and family members… sometimes we just feel lonely.

We may have a disagreement with our spouse which leaves us frustrated and annoyed. We get into a discussion with coworkers that leaves us feeling persecuted for our religious beliefs. A series of misfortunes leave us feeling beaten down and financially strapped. And we feel so alone. We have no one to sympathize with us, or at least, no one who can quite understand the depth of our struggles. We cry out to God, beseeching him to fix our problems, to make us happy again. Does He not want us to be happy? Why do the hurts of this world pierce our soul so deeply? And why does God allow us to feel lonely?

As humans, we are made to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with Him in the next. God allows us to be lonely because He desires that we seek Him. If we could float through life completely fulfilled by the things of this world, then what need would we have of God? As St. Gerard Majella said, “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” Loneliness is not a punishment, but rather, a manifestation of the soul’s desire to be in union with God. He wants us to seek Him in our struggles, give Him our whole hearts, to rely on Him and to trust in His goodness alone.

It is the nature of the human soul to seek companionship. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” We find other souls who understand us, who share similar values, with the same sense of humor or the same love of coffee or of 19th century British literature, and we bond. We spend countless hours discussing, laughing, sharing. The same illustrious author said, ““Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”

But even with our good, godly friendships, sometimes a sense of loneliness pervades our soul. We can never find true peace and fulfillment in the things or the people of this world, no matter how beautiful or wonderful they may be. Any consolation we receive from a friend, any love they show us comes from God through them, for “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17)

A true friend consoling us in a time of need is a balm for a weary soul. If we are surrounded by faithful companions in a time of struggle, we are truly blessed. What a grace we have been given to help us through our difficulty! But if we are struggling and feeling the sting of loneliness, it is God’s gentle way of encouraging us to seek Him. He can heal the deep wounds of our soul, and He alone fulfills our inner longings. Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him, says St. Augustine. Seek Christ. Visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament, receive Him in Holy Communion, seek His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance. He heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). Allow Him to fill your emptiness. Do not despair, for “He who has God finds he lacks nothing – God alone suffices.” (St. Teresa of Avila)

“I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

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