Question from a Site Viewer
I am lonely. I don’t want to be alone anymore.
I have a serious problem in dealing with people. My friendships always break. I lose the people I love the most because my character drives them away. I am lonely and I don’t know how I can maintain friendships.
Loneliness can be a significant hindrance to life. And friends can be a great blessing. Scripture tells us that to have friends one must be friendly (Proverbs 18:24). To be friendly is certainly easier for some people than for others. Sometimes, we do not even realize what we are doing that is not conducive to friendships. Sometimes we do.
And sometimes, though we are friendly, people move on in their lives. Young adults often experience this as people move to go to college, or to a job, or find that special one that they marry. In each of these situations, we may understand why someone who was really close to us is no longer close, but it does not dull the sense of loss in our own lives. Looking back in life those who were my closest friends in grade school were not my closest friends in high school. And those who were my closest friends in high school were not my closest friends in college. And those who were my closest friends in college were not my closest friends when they moved away to a job. And so it goes. Always, in each place and situation, I have made new friends and I have watched as old friends gain new friendships that are even more meaningful for them. This does not mean that such people are no longer my friends; rather it simply means that I am no longer their closest friend. Life is fluid and people change and friendships change. Only Christ remains forever as a friend. The hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus speaks of the situation when our friends forsake us.
None of us have the ability to hold on to close friendships. Some people are very fortunate to have long-time close friends. But most do not. People change. And even Jesus had His closest friends forsake Him and betray Him.
However, there are things we can do to be sure that the loneliness and loss of friends is not because of us. First, you seem to indicate that your character is at least somewhat to blame. If this is indeed true (and I do not know if it is or it isn’t), then I would suggest working on those character issues that irritate your friends. Our characters are not immutable. We can change.
Yet, I do not suggest that this is the best place to start. Rather, the best place to start in life is to set your goal on being the absolutely best follower of Jesus that you can be. Seek to love Him and love others by serving Him and serving others. Try always to be a blessing to others in tangible ways. Make life fun for others. And help them to see Jesus in you. Pray for them, for their spiritual growth, for God to bless them and for God to use them. Memorize Scripture and let it transform your life. Try not to focus on your losses and your loneliness, but on blessing others. Become an “other people person.” Learn to gain joy by seeing other people blessed. When you see a couple of people who are clearly close friends, instead of envying them, I encourage you to stop and thank God for allowing you to see them blessing each other in this way. This is part of being other-focused. Be happy when others succeed. Be sad when they fail. Always, be a servant to others. Learn to be a facilitator for people to meet others who might be good friends for them. In other words, focus life on the happiness of others.
As you seek to bless others, invest in them, and seek their best, you will find over time that your life will become filled with friends. When your happiness is derived from delighting in the happiness of other people and in the happiness of God, you also will find meaning to life and joy and peace. And if the Lord is willing, you will also find that very special friend who will be a lifetime spouse to you.
I also believe that sometimes counseling can help on these issues. Others can sometimes see what we cannot. You might seek the advice from a pastor or other counselor who knows you or who can work closely with you and help you with any character issues you may have.
But, for me, the bottom line is for each of us to learn that we cannot control our friends. The only person we can control is ourselves. And this means also our attitudes. We have a choice how we react to losses. We can use such losses to refocus our lives on Christ and on seeking to be a blessing to others. Or we can let such losses control us.
This is not to say that it is easy to lose the closeness of a good friend. I think we have all experienced that sense of loss. And it is okay to mourn for a little while that loss. But mourning is different than depression. And always, we must remember Jesus, who also lost friends and yet never lost sight of the mission. Keep the mission always in mind.
May the Lord Jesus guide you as you make the adjustments needed in life to grow, to mature, and become a spiritually vibrant and overflowing Christian.