It’s Valentine’s Day, and with that comes the expected flood of Facebook and Instagram photos featuring happy couples and cute poems and chocolate and flowers and chocolate and cats and chocolate and chocolate and chocolate. It is a day of happiness and being together, but for those who have not yet found love or who are healing of love lost, it can be a day of very mixed feelings.
In my chats with a range of people, I have especially found these feelings and even a sense of confusion and guilt can arise for those who are Christians.
“Yes, I’m alone, but as a Christian shouldn’t I feel comforted and happy anyway?”
“Is my faith weak if I’m feeling sad or overwhelmed?”
“Shouldn’t I only tell others how good God is even when I’m alone, rather than admitting I’m actually really struggling?”
The struggle is real for many sincere Christians who feel an obligation to show strength and comfort from God even though down deep, they feel terribly alone. And thus can begin a spiral of guilt, feeling that their faith is not what it should be and they just need to push aside the loneliness.
That’s not the way it is supposed to be.
The Bible is filled with stories of love and loneliness, and of comfort and wanting to be comforted. Whether Ruth or Elijah or King David or Paul, the great heroes of scripture spoke of loneliness. The Psalms are full of heartfelt cries of longing and loneliness. These women and men of God were not suppressing their feelings while putting on a happy face, but offered up full weeping and crying and calling out for help. Is that to say we should take despair as a way to deal with being on our own while surrounded with so many whose lives are full of happy times, hugs, and free chocolate? No, of course not. I do believe though that it should reassure us that we are not weak in our faith or failing God when we do feel lonely or in need of, at the very least, a hug and warm shoulder. And chocolate.
I believe our brave attempts to sound like our lives are awesome and exciting even when we feel alone or left out ring hallow and insincere to others. We are not witnessing and showing God’s love when we put on a brave face and refuse to admit what is obvious to those around us. It is always better to be honest and admit to being lonely and feeling confused or hurt, even while we have the assurance and comfort that God is with us and we are never truly alone. We need to remember that knowing God is with us through the good times and bad does not mean we will only have good times and never have bad.
If you are a believer and alone today, take comfort in knowing that God is indeed walking with or even carrying you. You may be lonely but you are not alone. If you have friends or people in your church with whom you want to share how you feel, do not feel guilty about calling them and asking for a chat over coffee, and then pouring out how you feel. And if you are blessed with someone who loves you, don’t forget to reach out and listen to those who are still praying for someone to love.
I have been on my own for the past 15 years, save a few all-too-brief but wonderful stretches of dating a beautiful soul in that time. I do feel lonely, and sometimes terribly so. But I do not despair and I do not feel God has forgotten me. I fully believe that whatever path He has me on, it will be one that He has laid out for me and He has great things in store. Very hopefully, one of those things will be a romance beyond my wildest dreams. Or chocolate.
Love is a many-splendored — and sometimes terribly confusing and elusive — thing. Whether you are with the love of your life or standing alone today, you are not truly alone at all. Take heart in knowing that God has taken many through the storms, and will take you and I there too.