My eyes widened and I forced a smile as my acquaintance—and closest relationship resembling a friendship since we moved 6 months ago—told me she and her family would be moving this summer. I took a sip from my latte to soothe the sting and plunked it back onto the red table with hand-painted yellow flowers.
It had taken months to arrange this meet up. Months of last minute cancellations—childcare falling through, a cycle of huge storms, sick kids. And now this.
As I walked to my car later that morning, one thought permeated my mind: God, why can’t you give me just one friend here?
Sometimes the loneliness was tangible. It felt as though I was the perpetual outsider watching others live in community and connection. But this wasn’t a new feeling. Having moved more times than I care to admit, this was a part of the process to establish roots in a new place. But that didn’t make it any easier.
When loneliness knocks at the door, rather than inviting it in for tea, four truths have helped me redirect my focus away from my situation and toward the Lord.
First, God sees us
In Genesis 16, we encounter the story of a woman named Hagar. I find it astounding this story shows up in our Bible at all. Hagar was a slave—someone in the background, but God shines his spotlight of love and care on her.
Forced to have a child with her master, Abram, because of the outlandish idea of her mistress, Sarai, Hagar gets the short end of the straw. When Sarai becomes angry about her pregnancy, Hagar flees to the desert to escape her wrath. She has nobody to protect her. No one to lighten her heavy load. No friend to tell her how crazy her boss is.
And yet, God knows exactly where Hagar is and equips her to go back. When Hagar returns, she knows God saw her and was taking care of her (Genesis 16:13). She wasn’t removed from a harsh situation or given a close friend, but encouraged by the love of the Lord to endure. Hagar’s life is a striking reminder how nothing escapes God’s radar of love.
No matter how lonely our circumstances may seem, like Hagar, we aren’t alone. God sees us. He loves us. And this powerful combination empowers us to persevere through feelings of isolation.
Second, Jesus is enough
While we are created to live and be in community, loneliness beckons us to behold one key truth: Jesus is enough to satisfy our hearts.
When we lack nearby friends or family, we are forced to rely on Christ alone. Each time we have to start over with relationships in a new place or when dear ones leave us behind, we can consider it an invitation to remember—to recall that God is enough for us. Even if we don’t have the relational depth we may desire at any given time, the Lord can satisfy our longing to be known, heard, and loved.
And when the burden of being alone still feels weighty, we can turn our eyes to Jesus and ask him to make this the anthem of our life:
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”Psalm 73:25–26
Anytime relationships and plans aren’t going as we hoped, we can look for God’s kindness. Rather than leading us down a dead end, he’s signaling a new way forward. Like a compass, we must reset our bearing to Christ and allow him to direct our path. Sometimes the trail will be clearly marked. Other times, we’ll have to continually readjust our bearings.
Even in my own desert seasons without deep relationships in a new place, God would provide opportunities to converse with someone walking her dog or standing in line behind me beyond the weather. While they weren’t the same as a dear friend tracking alongside me, they sparked hope for the possibility of being known again.
Three, God planted us in this place
Sometimes it’s tempting to imagine that if we changed geographic locations like clothing, things would be better. That if we just tossed on a sun dress instead of jeans and a sweater, all would be well. But desiring what was does not serve us and only leads our hearts to complain and question our faithful God (Exodus 16).
Part of walking through loneliness is trusting God wanted us in this town, city, or neighborhood. And when we see the beautiful truth that God has “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of [our] dwelling place” (Acts 17:26), we are free to not lose heart. We can sidestep the brewing inward storm of despair, and instead, move toward uncovering what God has for us in this place.
When we can shift the focus off ourselves and toward God’s purpose for us in this community, we find a path forward. And this trail—which may feel like it’s going a different direction than we’d like at times—leads us away from isolation and straight into a journey with our beloved Savior.
Four, seek outside help when needed
Trusting God doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek support if we’re struggling. We can be proactive to get the help we need to be healthy.
Sometimes in these barren relational seasons, we may struggle with depression or anxiety. A biblical counselor can be a gift from the Lord to guide us to filter our experience through a biblical lens. Setting up phone calls with a long-distance friend to share our concerns is a healthy step as we establish a support system in our new home. Even utilizing a free counseling app to encourage us toward staying healthy in seasons of change can be beneficial.
This doesn’t weaken our reliance upon God, but is a tool to gain support when we may lack this type of support network.
As I continue to navigate life in a new town, some days are more encouraging than others. But God has always been faithful. While I wish he would just hurry up and plant me in deep community already, this takes time.
In whatever places we find ourselves, we can rehearse the truths we know from his Word to spark hope to keep pressing onward. When loneliness lingers, each morning we can remind ourselves that God sees us and is with us as we go throughout our days. May the weight of loneliness lighten as we find our full satisfaction in the Lord and entrust ourselves to his guidance.
Photo credit: @emilvhughes
Jenny Marcelene is a freelance writer and editor. She helps families explore God’s greatness across the street and around the globe. Her publishing credits comprise a variety of print and online articles, including Risen Motherhood, The Gospel Coalition, Christian Parenting, Lifeway’s ParentLife, and Truly. You can connect with her online by visiting her website or on Instagram.