Because of the type of job I have, I have a larger social media presence — but even people with lots of followers can still feel lonely. Why? Because those are not real relationships. No matter how many online friends we have, in this age of super-connectedness online, we are relationally disconnected.
We get so busy keeping up with social media friends that we lose touch with the friends and family who really matter, the relationships that combat loneliness. Why do we have this tendency? It is because real relationships can be hard, messy, and require more fruit of the spirit—patience, kindness, etc.
Which do you think is more important to God? Dozens of posts a day or to love our neighbor with time, attention, and affection? Which of these two does He value more: Hearts on an Instagram page or hugging your neighbor? You have to truly fulfill the second greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
So, remember those closest to you. For me, it’s my wife Susan, my children, my mother and brothers, and four or five close friends. Here are 3 steps to overcoming loneliness.
Note: Now I’m going to start with the least intensive way to connect, and work up to the ways that have the most power to do away with your feelings of loneliness and help others with theirs.
I try to text my children every day. It can be something as simple as an “I love you,” a Bible verse, or a silly emoji. I want them to know I’m thinking about them. If you text those you care about, be sure to respond when they text you.
Did you know that when a child hears his mother’s voice his body manufactures more of the hormone that produces positive feelings? If you’ve gotten out of the habit of talking by phone to those you care about, reach out to them today. Better yet, make a point to call your close friends and family regularly. Studies on loneliness show that a simple phone call can lift your spirits and the spirits of the person you’re talking to.
3. Face-to-face or Facetime
“I’m so busy” is the mantra of our society. We are so busy checking our texts that we can’t look at our wife when she’s talking to us. We can’t watch TV with our teenager because we’re answering emails. We can’t meet a friend for dinner because we’re “crazy busy.” The best way to become less lonely is to spend more time with people we care about. Then, when we’re with them we need to really be with them… no screens, no pretense, no need to rush off somewhere. If you don’t have people in your life who you feel close to, push yourself to be with others so that you can develop face-to-face relationships; volunteer, visit a church, join a club.
Loneliness cannot be overcome alone. God created us for community. We each have to make the effort to make time, reach out, and connect with those we care about.