When I became a mom, I expected many challenges: sleepless nights, learning how to discipline, the transition from working full time to staying home.
But there was one challenge I didn’t expect: loneliness.
I often felt guilty because I had everything I wanted: healthy kids, a happy marriage, and a great church family. In fact, I was never alone! But I had never felt so lonely.
What is wrong with me? I used to ask myself this repeatedly and then feel ashamed.
I know I’m not the only mom of little kids with this issue. For many of our waking hours we are isolated and stressed out by unceasing demands on our limited strength and energy.
It’s important for us to find time for ourselves, but too much time comes with its own set of struggles.
Whether you stay at home with your kids or you work, if you’re feeling this kind of emptiness, here are three truths to remember:
1. God Made You Relational (Nothing’s Wrong with You!)
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” —Genesis 1:18
The story in the Bible goes that humans were relational from the very beginning. God himself is relational and created us so that we would be in relationship with him. So it only makes sense that when we are isolated, we feel this sense of longing that can only be filled with another person.
To be honest, I have an amazing, supportive husband and we have a great relationship. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone. But even then I can attest that he doesn’t meet all of my needs for connection. Perhaps that is just a result of the fall…we are flawed, and therefore our marriage relationship will be flawed.
I also know that I have a need for connection with other women. They “get me” in support me in ways my husband can’t (and doesn’t particularly want to!).
We know we need relationship. God knows we need relationship. That’s why it hurts so much when we don’t have the relationships we want, be it a healthy marriage, a BFF, or even a child during a struggle with infertility.
So the next time you ask yourself, “What’s wrong with me?” when you’re feeling empty, remember that you have valid and complex relational needs. God made you that way!
2. It’s Okay To Feel Bad Sometimes
When you’re battling loneliness as a mom or in any stage of life, you can feel guilty for your feelings, especially when things are going well otherwise. I would beat myself up for not being more grateful for this otherwise amazing life I had. It took me a long time to come to grips to the fact that, while I should still “choose joy” when possible, there is nothing wrong with feelings of sadness or grief.
Jesus himself said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
In my times of loneliness, I was forced to mourn what I was missing. I did a cross-country move when I was pregnant with my second child, and I deeply missed my old friends (and still do). Since that move I’ve had two more friends move away from me, which has spurred more mourning. I get jealous of my friends and acquaintances that have been in the same location together since their college days and are raising their kids together. I’ll never know what that’s like.
If I hadn’t mourned those losses and simply glossed over the pain, I would never have been able to give my full heart to my newer friendships—which I still desperately need.
3. Loneliness Can Draw You Closer To God
My lonely times have strengthened my faith unlike any other experience. When the Bible acknowledges in Genesis that it is “not good” to be alone, in my experience, I’ve found that being “alone” actually draws me nearer to God.
When I was grieving the loss of my old friendships—and even still now when I have lonely days when I’m losing my mind at home with the kids—I’ve had nowhere to go but to my knees in ugly pray-crying. I hate those moments, I really do. But I also know God has used them to refine me and draw me into his own loving arms.
Recently I’ve discovered that so much of the Bible is about people who suffer a period of loneliness, suffering and grief. For starters: Moses, Hannah, Job, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Paul and yes even (especially!) Jesus himself. But we know in hindsight that God used those periods to refine them, strengthen their faith and ultimately draw them closer to him. Just as he has done with us.
(For more study on this, see my post 5 Promising Bible Verses for the Lonely Mama.)
While I still don’t like it, loneliness doesn’t wreck me anymore because I see the big picture. What’s more, I know that through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with me always (Matthew 28:20).
What about you: do you battle with loneliness? What could you change about your perspective that would help you embrace this period in your life?