Last Updated on February 28, 2024

Albert Einstein once said, “It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.”  You can be the most active mom on the block—volunteering yourself like crazy and hosting every party—but be riddled with loneliness.

What is loneliness?  Ironically, it’s not being alone.  The strange thing about loneliness is that we feel it most intently when we are with people.  Loneliness is the knowing in our heart that we were created to really, truly know each other in the deepest sense but feeling stuck with superficiality.

About eight years ago my husband, Bob, and I went through a period during which we were really vulnerable about some struggles we were facing.  We took our proverbial masks of perfection off and shared that we were facing a marital challenge.  We ached so deeply.  I went to visit one of my closest friends.  She knew our secrets.  Surely, she would talk to me about them.  Instead, when she answered the door and saw my tears she said, “I just made some really great cake icing, do you want to come in and taste it?”  So I did.

And then she offered me the recipe and said she was really busy.  Man, was that one of the loneliest moments of my life.

Loneliness is most often triggered by a major, painful event such as the divorce of parents, a major dating break-up, an illness or long hospitalization, the loss of a loved one, a broken friendship, or a rejection from a group of people you trusted.  Let’s face it: It’s hard to talk about a cake icing recipe or who is dating whom when your heart is crushed by rejection or loss.

You want to talk about real issues.  You want to be known.

According to surveys, on of the three greatest fears of teen girls is that they will never be truly known and loved.  I’m not sure we ever outgrow that, girls!  Even Jesus experienced acute loneliness.  But He confessed His unshaken confidence in the presence of God in John 16:32 when He said, “You will leave Me all alone.  Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me.”

Are you lonely?  Here’s how you might be able to tell:

  • Has there been a significant painful event in your life in the past 12 months?
  • Do you zone out when people start talking about superficial things, desiring to talk about “real” issues? (Perhaps you leave parties early.)
  • Do you feel painfully isolated when you are with people? (If being alone is comfortable for you but being with people makes you feel alone, you are probably experiencing loneliness.)
  • Do you cry often and feel sadness but still maintain productivity and efficiency? (Depression dampens ability to function; loneliness does not. If you find yourself unable to perform normal duties, you should consider whether you could be depressed, which can occur if loneliness goes on too long.)

If you answered yes to all of the above, you may be experiencing loneliness on some level.  We all experience it at some point in our lives.  It’s not a sin.  (Remember, Jesus knew this emotion as well.)  But it’s not something God wants you to live with as a constant companion.

So, how do you relieve loneliness?  Oh, my friend, the pill to relieve our pain from loneliness isn’t one that just one of us can swallow.  We must all dive in to become a tight-knit group of intimate friends, with unconditional trust, a place where weaknesses, strengths, successes, and failures are shared.  We must be so tight-knit that we talk about real things in real time.

That means we take off the mask and be transparent so intimacy can grow and our friendships are so deep that they aid us in our times of deepest need.

If you are experiencing loneliness, I encourage you to call a friend and tell her what is really going on in your life.  If she can handle it, she’ll help you find the way out.  If she can’t, find someone who can.

After my friend sent me home with a great cake icing recipe, I called another.  She and her husband walked with us through our pain and today Bob and I enjoy a great marriage with each other an an intimate friendship with them.  Two returns that were well worth the investment of transparency.  I’m so glad I took off the mask of perfection—the cost was well worth the pay-off.

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  1. Dannah,
    You have written an excellent article, that has struck me to the core. You are very aware of the pains of loneliness and I am happy that you found relief.
    I have been very lonely following a breakup last year. I have been extremely confused because I felt that he was the “one.” (I had never been so sure of anything in my life.) Yet now, I find I am constantly plagued with loneliness even despite a pretty good relationship with Our Father. I feel that this is the only thing that helps me get to the next day, despite having family and friends around me daily.
    I have been with 2 good friends who have seen way too many tears from me and offered the usual advice. I have a degree in Psychology so I do heed advice well. I just keep wondering “what next?” How do I go on?

  2. Dear Jill,
    I completely understand how you feel. After going through a divorce about five years ago, I still find myself very lonely at times. I agree with finding some real close friends you can open up to with deep connections. I found mine because they were the ones who weren’t afraid to open up to me also. They were also Christian friends who had also gone through some really tough times and could relate. I found by getting in a small women’s group through church and listening to others with their pain, they were willing to listen to mine and able to relate. Hang in there and don’t give up. You are never truly alone. God Bless ~B

  3. Dear Jill:
    It is a grace that he was not "the one." Sometimes we think we know what is best for us, but God has something so much greater. "The one" will have "staying love." He will be in for the thick and thin. I'm so glad I found one with "staying love" because we couldn't have made it without it. Staying love is what Hosea and Gomer knew. It's what God knew for Israel. It's what Christ knows for us. And, in marriage, we are to be an intimate picture of Christ and his beloved bride, The Church. That takes a LOT of "staying love." So, give your heart time to heal. Look at this hurt with gratitute, and press in to the relationships around you who have known the same hurt. God WILL heal you. He healed me.

  4. Dear Jill,
    I have been married for the past 14 years but often feel alone,I feel i need affection from him but does not get any., i have been withdrawing from him. He just does not understand what am going through. He spent 3 hours with a friend of ours wife who has a six month old baby when she was ill one night and though i know he was only trying to help her out having the baby and her husband not being home. I can’t stop feeling jealous that he spent that much time with her. When i don’t get any time and attention from him. I am resenting him daily and cant talk to anyone about this, i have friend but can’t trust anyone enough to say anything to them. The mention friend’s husband just invited him over to watch soccer and am upset about it.I feel am being a horrible person but can’t help myself feeling this way. Just sad.

  5. Thank you to all who care. I really appreciate your words and wisdom. I am trying to do all the things, like let my heart heal, talk with friends, etc. It hurts to think he doesn’t hurt for me, though. I do find extreme comfort when I sit and read my Bible.
    BLO, I really like your suggestion to join a women’s group through church. I went through some really rough times a few years back and although it was a Bible study class, the women were fabulous. I will have to look into that again- thanks for the suggestion! Also, thank you for letting me know that I am truly not alone.
    Dannah, I want to believe all you have written, but it is hard to have that faith that I will be healed. I have faith in God and know that I am here to do works for Him, but somehow I still feel so empty and lonely. The one thing that I don’t understand is that I am very pure of heart. Why would I have been opened up to such a wonderful love, and then be left?
    Lorraine, I am probably the last one that needs to be giving you advice. However, I feel for you. I will pray for you that you can get through this time and you and your husband will become stronger for it.
    God Bless you all,

  6. Jill, Have you ever thought for a moment that since you do have a good relationship with Our Father, that he is protecting you?
    Maybe Our Father knows that this person may not treat you the way he intended for a man to treat his wife. He just may need to grow some more. Who is to say that with some time and maturing that he doesn’t eventually realize that…you are the one.
    Pray that God will help you fill in those pockets of loneliness with things that are pleasing to him and that he will allow you the desires of your heart. If this gentlman is not the one then to allow your heart to be open enough to realize the gift of love that he may present to you in other realm. It will do you no good to have the man of your desires that doesn’t give you the respect that you deserve.
    I know from experience, you could love someone with all your heart and give them your all, but if they are not in a proper relationship with our father….you will find yourself with a whole lot of extra problems that are way more complicated to solve when you add children, joint accounts and in-laws to the mixture.
    I will be praying for you as well.

  7. Althea,
    Thank you so much. I have tears pouring down my face as I read your beautiful reply. I have thought that God may be protecting me as well, but there were so many things that brought me to him, I thought that God helped us find each other. And even though, I didn't say anything, you perceptibly replied that "he may just need to grow some more." That is exactly what I have felt for this last year. He always told me that "he prayed for me (to come into his life)." He did get off into a selfish mode, that is when we broke up. It was all about him. Although, I have minimal contact with him, I know that right now he doesn't treat me the way a man needs to treat his wife. It still hurts. The anxiety is hard too. When I start getting "worked up" I pray: God please protect me from all anxiety. And I always pray for Him to guide me in living my life for Him. Thank you, Althea.
    Thank you for your prayers.