It’s Okay to Feel Lonely

Just so you know, it is okay to feel lonely.

Also, just so you know, today is Valentine’s Day. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve seen countless people utilize social media to portray either their love or their hate for this holiday. Leading up to today, you’ve been a part of or overheard discussions that either glorify Valentine’s Day or demonize it. It’s funny to me just how polarizing today is for just about everybody.

You’ve seen people post about their plans for this day in the last couple of weeks, but for every indelibly sweet, lovey-dovey post, you’ve also seen several tweets from lonely people, those without a “special someone” for Valentine’s Day. “Singles Awareness Day” memes abound.

It would be easy to criticize people for either one of these extremes because, honestly, over-the-top posts often are warning signs for some lingering insecurity; and that tends to be the lens through which people evaluate such posts and tweets. Yet, knee-jerk reaction to criticize such displays actually reveals something else about the society we’re in.

It’s a sad thing, but collectively, it seems that we are adverse to the idea of feeling, of emotion. We don’t really know how to deal with things like anger, joy, or sadness. Such things have become foreign to us, but we’re human. We cannot escape them. So, our emotion tends to explode in a place where it cannot really be confronted for what it is; it overflows onto the Internet.

Valentine’s Day is one of the most prevalent revelations of the awkwardness we have in dealing with emotions. Posting about how much we hate this holiday or screaming from the rooftops how much our Valentine completes us accomplishes little. It does feel a little better to get those feelings out there, but when the outlet is the Internet, you have not satisfied your need to be in community with people–to be involved in real relationships.

Today is supposed to be a celebration of one of the most spectacular of human relationships, and if you have one of those relationships, then celebrate it! Enjoy the excellence that is truly loving your partner.

And if you don’t have someone, remember that it really is okay to feel lonely. We’re all designed to want a relationship. Feeling that desire should not be considered weird, weak, or whatever. The difference is, while it’s okay to feel lonely, it is something else entirely to allow loneliness to overwhelm and define you.

Many people try to get away from this clear desperation by “doing something for themselves” or “celebrating the joy of their own lives.” While it’s true that we need to respect and love ourselves, such statements on days like these seem to scream, “Bury your problem in selfishness! That should do the trick!” If such is the portrait of love, then we have missed the point of what it means to be truly selfless in dedicating ourselves to our friends, families, and, as Jesus taught, our enemies.

Instead, recognize that your loneliness is a cry for something far more significant than a Valentine. Ultimately, that desire is satisfied in Christ alone, but if that was supposed to be the finality of the plan, God would have only created one person way back in the beginning of this world. Instead, he designed a helper, and commanded that we, as people, multiply.

We are designed for Him, and He also unselfishly designed us for others. When either of those things are absent, loneliness should be expected and even, in a sense, welcomed because it drives us toward a life of selflessness and satisfaction in the community of the Kingdom of God.

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