Spring is here, the sky is blue,
Birds all sing as if they knew
Today’s the day we’ll say “I do”
And we’ll never be lonely anymore
My friends and I used to break into a hearty rendition of Chapel of Love whenever someone got married. As is typical for kids, we didn’t give much thought to the lyrics. It was just a bouncy little tune. Lying buried within the song, however, are insidious implications, most notably in the line, “Today’s the day we’ll say ‘I do,’ and we’ll never be lonely anymore.“
Never lonely anymore? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“True Love”—as it refers to romantic love—is touted as the panacea for all ills, the ultimate cure for loneliness, and what every human will achieve when they discover their “soul mate.”
As a twelve-year veteran of marriage (and a bit of a romantic at heart), allow me share some wisdom not borne out of cynicism: Loneliness exists even in the best marriages.
People change, and not always in the way you expect them to. People die, since death is part of life. Memories corrode beneath the weight of Alzheimers and dementia. Sickness or poor mental health alter a person’s behavior. Betrayal comes from places you least expect.
Perfect fulfillment cannot be found in imperfect humans.
Alone vs. Lonely
When God created woman, he said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. (Gen 2.18, ESV). The helper was Eve, and Adam took her to be his wife. The passage finishes with, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2.24, ESV)
The two became one. That oneness should have eliminated loneliness, right? It eliminated alone-ness, not loneliness. God knew man needed companionship, just as He has a unified companionship with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But human companionship—unlike the divine—does not fill every void. Sin creeps in. Selfishness rears its ugly head. Temptation lures people from their relationships. The rush of everydayness creates invisible chasms of loneliness.
There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Marriage alleviates the state of being alone, but it does not eliminate loneliness.
Loneliness Lie #1: I Deserve Better.
When loneliness strikes, we feel an immediate urge is to soothe it’s sting. We comfort ourselves with, “I deserve more” or “I’m worth more.” Either we think too much of ourselves or we sink into the mire of self-pity. Whatever the case may be, we think we should be above such sorrows and seek out ways to be happy again. This leads to all sorts of problems, particularly in marriage. If someone is lonely in marriage, they look for value in all the wrong places—neglecting their spouse, chasing another dream, or committing adultery. The focus swivels toward pleasing self and away from Christ-like love.
We do have worth—especially to God. He demonstrated His great love for us by sending Jesus to sacrifice Himself for our salvation. Even in our most pitiable state, He looks on us with the love of a devoted Father. At the same time, we are still frail humans and we should not think of ourselves as more important than others. If we seek to soothe our loneliness at the expense of another, we are no longer being Christ-like.
God intended for us to long for “better,” but that better is Him. We do have worth or else Jesus wouldn’t have given His life for us. God and Jesus love us with what can genuinely be labeled “True Love.”
Loneliness Lie#2: I Am Deficient.
Loneliness may lead us to think we are deficient some way. In some cases, there may be a deficiency due to sin. A drunken wife—finding herself divorced and separated from her children—certainly brought about her own loneliness. A man who looks at pornography alienates his wife, betraying her with his mental infidelity. He may eventually find himself abandoned. There are times when our sins do bring loneliness. In such cases, loneliness has the potential to drive a person toward change—and that’s a good thing!
On the flip side, our loneliness does not always stem from sin. At times, it’s just the rhythm of life. Relocation, separation, and any number of circumstances stir up a cloud of loneliness. Allow your worth to come, not from circumstances, but from the Lord of Heaven and Earth. You are a child of the King, and He loves you. Don’t sink into the mire of sadness; discover peace in His Everlasting Arms.
Loneliness Lie #3: We need people more than we need God
There are moments when all we want is a real person to give us a hug and listen attentively as the tears fall. We just want to talk to a physical person who immediately talks back. This is why God gave us companionship; He knows our nature well. Loneliness tells us to turn to people first and God second, but it should be the other way around.
God gave us relationships to satisfy our immediate physical and emotional needs. He knows the beauty of human connection and in those connections we learn how to love as God loves. Yet even in the best relationships, we are gripped with an innate longing for more than what we find in this world.
Each time we lay our loneliness before God’s throne, we initiate a transformation from loneliness to joy—a joy that can only be found in the peace of His presence. It is comforting to know that even “at the end of all things,” God is with us. The Psalmist says he “inclines his ear toward us.” Picture a Father crouching down to look at his child’s face as he listens attentively to their hurt—that’s what our Father does for us!
God is our all in all. Whether I find myself in the halls of prosperity or languishing in a prison camp, God will always be there to hear my voice—even when words fail. Jesus empathizes with my pain, having experienced loneliness Himself. The Holy Spirit helps us by interceding for us with groans that cannot be uttered. No other relationship has that kind of presence or constancy.
Don’t look for relief in the wrong places. Find comfort in the everlasting arms of God.