Loneliness, Purpose, and Freedom

Loneliness, Purpose and Freedom

If you recall, and for those of you just joining us, I conducted a survey several months ago to put me in touch with the greatest needs and aspirations of the Purposeful Singleness community. I again thank those of you who responded! Your input is invaluable.

I want to reiterate some of what I wrote in the follow-up emails, to give an opportunity for discussion in the comments below. Many of you wrote insightful and thoughtful responses to me, and I would love to see you post those responses here for the benefit of others.

Through the survey results I discovered that the positive aspect of singleness most of you treasure above all others is freedom — freedom to choose what you do with your time and resources, to be spontaneous, and to serve God and others were just some of the freedoms many of you mentioned.

By far the greatest challenge of singleness most of you deal with is loneliness — lack of companionship, and feeling disconnected from others, walking into church alone, not having someone to do things with, and making decisions alone are some of the downsides of singleness many of you expressed.

It was interesting that many of the same persons expressing the exhilaration of freedom in their lives also described the suffocation of loneliness. At first glance, it seems those aspects of one’s life that allows much freedom also opens the door to feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness from others.

At first I thought this was just a given, and that to have the freedom we all so much desire and treasure, we must also suffer the loneliness that seems to go with it.

But I don’t believe that needs to be the case.

Purpose Eradicates Loneliness

What if I told you the answer to loneliness is not necessarily having more people in our lives or even one special person, but in finding and living the unique purpose for which our loving Heavenly Father has designed and created us to fulfill?

In other words, loneliness = lack of purpose.

I know what you’re thinking: relationships are important, and I unequivocally agree. Not regularly connecting with other people creates a loneliness only remedied by deeper or more contact with others. God designed us that way.

Answer to Loneliness

But the loneliness that is soul-crushing, that could drives us to near suicide if we allowed it to take over, can be remedied by finding purpose in our lives just as our lives are right now. If we believe in a God who is sovereign and has our good at heart, can we not also trust that He designs and orchestrates our lives to be the perfect stage to live out the purpose for which He created us?

Purpose Gives us True Freedom

When we know our God-ordained purpose, we are set free to pursue that purpose and a life that will ultimately be the most fulfilling to us. I believe this is the abundant life Jesus promised us in John 10:10. True freedom is being who we were created to be, not what others expect of us, or even what we expect of ourselves and our lives.

Since God’s purpose for us is all about serving Him, knowing and living our purpose often brings us into community with those whom God has called us to serve and to serve with. It is in living our purpose that we find connectedness with God and with others.

So what do you think?

I asked these questions in my emails and really appreciated the responses, but want to ask them again here to give opportunity for discussion:

Is it true for you that the most positive aspect of singleness is freedom, and the biggest challenge is loneliness or disconnectedness from others?

Those of you experiencing soul-crushing loneliness, if you felt like your life had purpose and would be able to find out what God designed and created you for, do you think it would help eliminate or reduce your loneliness?

Those of you who don’t experience much loneliness except for the occasional times when you’ve not had as much opportunity to be with people, would you say that ultimately it’s because you feel your life has purpose and meaning?

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  1. Helen Tripp says:

    Most of the time I do not have a big problem with loneliness. I have a very busy life doing what I love and what God has directed me to do. The few times when I do feel lonely, I look for something to distract me. This could be as simple as going to some activity where other people are or even going out to a restaurant. It is the interaction with other people that brings me out of that “funk” even if I do not know the people that are around me.

    Other times, I look for things to do to stay busy. All of this is undergirded by staying in the Word and turning to God for strength, comfort, and wisdom. He definitely supplies all of this in abundance!

    So, while I do not know that having purpose is what keeps me from being lonely, I definitely know that being single does not have to equal being lonely. It is up to me to decide whether or not I am lonely. I do not let my circumstances dictate this for me.

    Thank you for getting this going again!


    1. Fern Horst says:

      It sounds like you have a great handle on dealing with loneliness as it comes, but living in your purpose and letting that fill your life as God planned for it to!

  2. I do believe purpose plays a part in it, I struggle with knowing my purpose, and maybe thats is why the loneliness seem overbearing sometime. On the other hand, it just seems natural to want companionship, I was once married, so I long for that. I do appreciate the freedom most days, and that is only because I value peace above anything else. Overall, I never thought about the purpose piece, I am interested in learning more!

    1. Fern Horst says:

      I had never thought about lack of purpose being a key component to loneliness either, until fairly recently. I do believe there is a natural God-given desire/need for companionship, and that God created us for relationship with other humans. However, I think far too often we think that has to be a certain relationship (marriage, for instance) rather than embracing the relationships God has given us and leaning on Him to fill the lacks in those relationships. Truth is, married people have to do that, also, as a spouse NEVER meets all one’s needs.

  3. I do find that seeking and/or living with a sense of pursuing God’s purpose for my life definitely helps minimize feelings of loneliness. However, sometimes I really just need to get around people too. I’m a bit of an introvert in my personal life, so it’s probably a little easier for me than for some to be alone; but on the other hand, sometimes I think I’ve gotten so good at being alone, that it can be a challenge to let people get close to me.

    1. Fern Horst says:

      Isn’t it amazing how differently God has created us? And all for His purposes. You’re wise to know yourself and your weaknesses and to seek out being with people at times rather than becoming too much of a recluse.

  4. Loneliness is indeed a large factor in singleness, and I agree that discovering our God-designed purpose is important. However, I also believe it’s important for us to feel our loneliness. Over the period of a year, and a time of transition in my life,I experienced some of the most intense and frightening loneliness I have ever known. But it was in the loneliness where I faced myself (longings, sin, fear) but also experienced The Father’s love beyond anything I have ever known. It’s difficult for me not to satisfy my loneliness with something like food or Facebook, even at a party. But what if we would listen to our loneliness? What are we longing for? How can we meet God? How would He like to meet us? 🙂

  5. I’m 40 years old and separated, pending divorce, from a 16 year abusive marriage. After separation from my ex, I filled my life (to the brim!) with friends, male and female and lots and lots of socialising (all of which was captured on camera and displayed on Facebook, of course, to convince myself my life was full of fun). But just below the surface, I felt empty. My friends are people I have been very close to for years, whose company I genuinely enjoyed but I felt so lost, lonely and very far from God.
    One day, from nowhere, I just broke down and cried for about 6 hours and just asked God to tell me what I’m meant to be doing for Him because I was desperately unhappy where I was with Him. That was the turning point for me. I felt a strong urge just to “Get into God” wholeheartedly.
    What I have discovered is that the closer I desire to be with God, the more I don’t want many of my friends in my life the way I used to. Honestly, it’s not me being “holier than thou” but I don’t miss my friends at all. I love my own company so much right now and jump at every opportunity I get to just spend time with God. So for me, purpose definitely drove away loneliness!

  6. It will soon be the seventh anniversary of my husband’s untimely death, after a 32 year marriage. I must confess to the fact that during the earlier years of the marriage I experienced some of the loneliest times ever. As so many have said before, just being married does not guarantee that you will not be lonely. Things did improve as the years went on and we had a very solid relationship at the end of my husband’s life. God had prepared me for being alone since I am more of an introvert and even as a child I always found things to keep me busy and occupied. So being alone now does not bother me as much as it might bother a more social person. God has taught me a lot about myself and my purpose over these past few years, things that I never would have learned had my life not taken this unexpected turn.

  7. Sahra Opi says:

    At 25 years old I’m starting to think about relationships more and more and I do find myself feeling lonely sometimes. Especially with social media relationships always being in our faces. I know God has my best intention at heart but sometimes I really wish I was in a relationship. Guess I’ll wait and see. Lol

  8. “only remedied by deeper or more contact with others”

    How does this happen when no one wants to spend time with me? I go out of my way to connect but everyone is too busy…

    1. I agree that does make it difficult, Julie, and there aren’t always immediate solutions to that problem. The key is finding people who need your company as much as you need theirs. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it truly is in knowing what God’s purpose for you is and pursuing that with all your heart that you are most likely to find connection with like-minded people.

      Once you know that you can find places to volunteer that fit your purpose. Usually volunteers of a specific cause, charity or organization have at least one key interest in common.

      A resource that I haven’t used but have heard good things about is http://www.meetup.com. I offer that suggestion with caution, of course, that you use your discretion in what you choose.

      Above all else, pray about it and ask the Lord where He wants you to find deeper connection with others. He is the one who created you and your purpose and knows best where He wants you to plugin and with whom.

  9. PatriciaF. says:

    Loneliness? I experience it, almost daily.

    While I have friends (most of whom are online, and/or far away), I have very few ‘close’ ones: people I can share ‘deep’ things with. I also don’t have many immediate family members around. Both of my parents are deceased, and I lost my twin sister to cancer in late 2012. There is only my older sister and her husband, and they are both very busy.

    Do I have a ‘purpose’ in, or for, my life? Not sure. There are things I enjoy doing alone–such as reading. And in the past few years, I’ve rediscovered an enjoyable hobby: creating Christmas ornaments using satin-covered balls, ribbon, acrylic ‘jewels’, and the like. I’ve given many of these away as gifts to family and friends. But I’d like to sell them, and have had a lot of trouble finding the right outlet. Nothing I’ve tried works (selling them through Facebook, etc..).

    As to more intimate relationships: I haven’t done well there at all. Most of the men I know are married/in a committed relationship. Our friendship is based on mutual interests, like history or sports or the world outside. I enjoy those; I think it reduces any ‘temptations’ to do things that are wrong.

    Regarding Christian friendships/relationships: I have probably a handful of those. I still haven’t found a local church to attend, that’s Biblically-based; I listen to online sermons from a New York City church I found.

    In summing up: loneliness will always be a part of my life. It’s not as bad as it was when I attempted suicide in late 2007. But I’ve accepted its presence. Which is better than fighting it.

    1. Fern Horst says:

      It sounds like you’ve reached a “sweet spot” in your life, but still open and ready for more. I believe God DOES have a purpose for your life! He does for everyone. Praying He will lead you in that discovery. You might want to consider coaching with Shari, who has helped me tremendously. More info at the “Finding Your Purpose” link in the top menu, if you’re interested in reading more about her and her coaching.

      Looking forward to hearing more from you in the days ahead! 🙂

      1. PatriciaF. says:

        Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Fern.

        A bit of an update: this past Christmas season, I participated in several local craft shows, and sold a number of my tree ornaments. It was a bit of a stretch for me, as an introvert, to go to these shows and do a little sales pitch. My favorite show was for a dog-rescue charity. I only sold one ornament. But the little girl who bought it for her mother took a long time to decide which ornament was the best one to give.

        And I met a lot of dogs in the process. 🙂

        And, I also went back to Facebook, to try and set up a ‘shop’ to sell them. And I received a few responses, from people who wanted a specific ornament design, which I did make for them.

        After the ‘dog craft show’, my sister had a great idea. She thought that, if I made ornaments with ‘dog faces’ on them, I could sell those at next year’s show. And I set up a Facebook page to sell them, too. And the response there has been amazing.

        Making these ‘puppy face’ ornaments has been very helpful, in alleviating the worst of the loneliness. I work on them while watching TV at night. And it’s fun.

        I guess I can say that God works in His own mysterious ways. And ones that are very surprising.

  10. Am 52 years old and after years in the work force have been forced from a job once loved and in which found value into a side board kind of existence when clicky and power hungry females desiring their own important and ways for their own benefit moved into the work force in this particular location. It really is something to observe and live through when people with their own important first and little regard for others in general just sort of take over from a place which was once thriving with professionalism, respect and team work. It is really something to be drilled upon a small task by very curt and quite frankly witchy kind of personality. Yelling and swearing are rife here now…where the boss actually yells into your face….who can exist with any kind of realism here….we all hope these people move on for the reality is the work I have enjoyed for so long is suppose to be a helping profession…what happened to worker care?

    Sadly have also struggled with the dating “partner” ( as he likes to term himself) for any real consistency and meaning…he wishes “freedom” without strings….well at least he does not yell or have fits or follow me or even ask me how I am doing.

    How did life turn out this way? Currently the loneliness and sense or worth is a powerful mover at this time in life and it is not pretty…worth is something I crave and meaning to someone or some ting….God is someone I need to turn more to and spend time in……

    Someone at work, who is a happily married man…once said most men are truly “pigs” as most want all they can get in the ways they want…but no ties…and well I have pretty much written off men for this reason….more really ARE taken……and I wish to completely avoid the actions taken by some women to deliberately undermine and “steal” other women’s men.

    So nice to have come upon this web site for I have found some hope and encouragement here….thank you.