I find that we often respond to the idea of being alone in one of two ways:
- I definitely don’t want that! I need to be around people!
Or, on the other end of the relationship spectrum:
- Ah, finally time to myself! I don’t have to be around people anymore.
I usually fall into the second category. I find it easier to be alone, especially when I feel sad or afraid about something.
One of my favorite examples of this attitude toward relationships is in the movie Up. In this movie, Carl, an elderly man who has lost his wife, finds himself in the process of being relocated to an assisted living facility against his will. Before he moves, he meets Russell, an outgoing young Wilderness Explorer.
Russell wants to help Carl in order to earn the final Wilderness Explorer merit badge:
As you can see in this clip, Carl is definitely someone who falls in the “wanting to be alone” category. Sometimes—especially when we are experiencing difficult or negative emotions—being alone feels easier and more appealing than being around other people.
But we aren’t meant to be alone; we need friends. This is how God designed us:
We, too—the many—are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone.Romans 12:5 VOICE
When I first got married and moved into my new place, I thought I could do the unpacking alone. I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone by asking for help.
By the end of the first day of unpacking, I remember lying down on the floor (because our bed still hadn’t arrived) exhausted and thinking I was never going to move again.
Fast forward to a few years later, and we once again moved to a new place. This time a few friends offered to help us unpack. I walked around our new place looking for things to do, but was amazed because everything had been unpacked. I learned a valuable lesson that day—the help of my friends made a major difference!
Christianity is a relationship religion; we are not meant to do it alone. As the verse in Romans 12 says, Christians are meant to be interconnected. We need each other to function correctly.
Our physical bodies need different organs and parts to survive. Each part has a role, and can’t fully function in its role without the other parts of the body. It’s the same with relationships between Christians; though we may be different from one another, we are equally needed. And we become stuck and can’t reach our full potential if we try to go through life alone.
If you’re someone who tends to find yourself going through life alone, this devotional is for you. We’ll look at passages of the Bible that show us the dangers of being alone. Then we will learn to embrace the friends God sends into our lives and deepen those relationships through honesty.
The danger of being alone
It’s not always obvious that we are going through life alone. You might be aware of feelings of loneliness, but you might now. You might be someone who is constantly surrounded by people so you don’t see yourself as alone, but you have a hard time letting people into the more vulnerable parts of your life.
Regardless of how “aloneness” shows itself in your life, I have found that it’s easy to get so comfortable with our social or mental isolation that we don’t even realize we are alone.
Some red flags for me that I’m going through life alone are:
- I can’t figure out what I’m feeling.
- I’m stuck in negative thinking about my life or other people’s lives.
- I feel like I’m the only one going through something and no one else can understand.
- I’m in my head most of the time, thinking mostly about myself and my insecurities.
- I don’t think people like me and I don’t feel like I have many friends.
Most of us can relate to these thoughts at different points in our lives. We need friends to help us change our negative ways of thinking. Some ways to avoid these red flags are:
- Letting our friends help us pinpoint our emotions.
- Letting our friends give us a different perspective.
- Listening to our friends relate and share their own struggles.
- Hearing how our friends are doing so that we can think outside of ourselves and care for others.
- Allowing ourselves to receive encouragement from friends.
Being consistently alone—physically or mentally/emotionally—does take a toll on us:
This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 NLT
When I was in graduate school, I worked hard to get all A’s in my classes. I went to class every day, did my internships, and did all my homework. But I was lonely. I was new to the area and didn’t have any friends.
Even so, I didn’t make much effort to be close to my classmates. I remember working on an assignment one Halloween night and looking out my window to see people laughing and enjoying life outside. Even though I was succeeding in my graduate program, I was missing out on connection and fun.
Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, lays out what happens when someone is alone. What he points out is that even growing financially will not bring happiness and meaning to life. Money can’t solve every problem and it won’t always provide protection.
This passage teaches us about the dangers of being alone:
- We won’t be able to find a purpose that is rewarding and lasting, and this will make us feel defeated and discouraged.
- We get into trouble when we’re alone because it’s easier to be attacked. These attacks don’t always wound us physically, but hurt us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. For example, we can get attacked by negative thoughts about ourselves. For some, our emotional health can worsen when we’re alone in our thoughts. It can also be easier to give into sins that make us feel ashamed when we’re alone because we want to escape feelings of loneliness, negativity, or pain.
- We can also break when we’re alone, which can look like crumbling under pressure. It can also look like turning to unhealthy or addictive habits to numb out, such as drinking or drugs.
We need friends to help us when we’re down, to provide us with support, and to help defend us. We need friends to help us focus on God and believe God will help us even through the hard times.
I mean that I want us to help each other with the faith that we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.Romans 1:12 ERV
We don’t need the greatest or most perfect faith to help a friend. Even if we are going through a hard time, we can still give encouragement to our friends. Sometimes the most encouraging thing we can do for our friends is be a mess in front of them.
When our friends see that we have flaws and weaknesses, they might feel more empowered to relate and share their own. Our vulnerability can help disarm them from feeling like they have to be perfect. Vulnerability usually breeds vulnerability!
Pause and reflect
- What are the ways you can be alone, whether socially or mentally? How does that affect you?
- Who is a friend you can connect with and encourage today?
- Be open with a friend about what you’ve been turning to if you have been isolated.
God sends us friends
We all experience times of distress, turmoil or challenges. A study done by the Pew Research Center found that the pandemic has negatively impacted Americans in several ways: isolation, missing friends and family, disrupted routines and activities, degradation of physical and mental health, job loss, and financial difficulties.
We have all been touched in some way by the hardships of the pandemic. When we are going through challenging times we need encouragement from God and friends.
When we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. We found trouble all around us. We had fighting on the outside and fear on the inside. But God encourages those who are troubled, and he certainly encouraged us by bringing Titus to us.2 Corinthians 7:5-6 ERV
Challenging times often bring fatigue and fear along with them. In these verses, Paul tells the Corinthian church about troubling times he had experienced in Macedonia. He had been fighting to do what would please God, but he had become tired and afraid. God saw that he needed support, so he sent Paul a trusted and loyal friend.
Just like Paul, we need friends to encourage us during challenging times. It’s not a weakness to need help, it’s actually an opportunity to attach more to God and to people.
I recently lost a relative to COVID-19 and was feeling shocked and saddened over it. At first, I tried to share my grief and pain vulnerably with my husband and friends. But after a while, I decided I should be over it and didn’t bring up what I felt anymore. I didn’t want to feel weak or needy for comfort.
After praying about what I was really feeling and realizing I was trying to handle my grief alone, I decided to talk to my husband and friends about it and ended up receiving the encouragement I needed.
Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.Proverbs 27:9 TPT
Friendships can help revive and strengthen us. They can also bring happiness to our lives. Being with friends and letting them into the challenges and successes in our lives gives us the opportunity to see that people relate to us. Our friends can help us have vision through the hard times and give us a faithful perspective on our challenges.
These kinds of friendships can also help us focus on God and his love and power. Through our friends, we can be reminded that God goes through our troubles with us and cares about us.
Pause and reflect
- What are some challenges in your life right now that you need to open up about to a friend?
- Where have you been turning for refreshment and happiness?
- Tell a friend today one challenge you’re going through and ask them for help in how to handle or resolve the problem.
Living honestly with others
This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: that God is Light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say we are his friends but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying. But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin.1 John 1:5-7 TLB
There have been times in my life where I claimed to be close to God and have close relationships, but no one knew what was really going on with me. I was hiding sin, hiding my emotions, and hiding my real desires.
As the passage above describes, living in the light makes our relationships feel joyful and wonderful. But concealing things makes relationships feel burdensome. It also pushes us further away from our relationships (Proverbs 28:1 MSG). Dishonesty makes life feel miserable and makes us feel exhausted (Psalm 32:3-4).
However, choosing honesty with God and others brings so many benefits. A study done by the American Psychological Association found that honesty can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health. According to the study:
In weeks when participants told fewer lies, they reported that their close personal relationships had improved and that their social interactions overall had gone more smoothly that week, the study revealed. “Statistical analyses showed that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying,” said Wang, who is a statistician.
Honesty improves not only the health of our relationships, but our physical health as well! Honesty also builds our confidence (Proverbs 10:9 MSG) and our closeness in relationships:
We are speaking freely to you, Corinthians [we are keeping nothing back], and our heart is opened wide. There is no limit to our affection for you, but you are limited in your own affection [for us]. Now in the same way as a fair exchange [for our love toward you]—I am speaking as [I would] to children—open wide [your hearts] to us also.2 Corinthians 6:11-13 AMP
Have you ever spent time listening to a friend pour out their emotions, and then chosen to hold back from talking about your own feelings?
Most of us have been there at some point in our lives. We can hold things back in conversations because we don’t want to open up our hearts to possible hurt or rejection. We can be afraid that people won’t care or won’t understand what we are going through.
It takes love and courage to be honest about the deeper things in our lives!
So discard every form of dishonesty and lying so that you will be known as one who always speaks the truth, for we all belong to one another.Ephesians 4:25 TPT
Honesty is a choice. Carefully weighing out the consequences of dishonesty in its many forms and the benefits of honesty will help us decide to tell the truth instead of concealing it.
Honesty will build unity and a sense of togetherness between us and our friends. And we need that, because Christianity is a team sport. We can’t go it alone!
Pause and reflect
- What areas of your life do you feel most tempted to conceal from your friends?
- How could your honesty help others?
- Have an honest conversation with a friend about an area of your life you normally do not discuss.
Going through life with friends is a much more enjoyable experience than going it alone. Here are some chapters of the Bible and devotionals to help develop your honesty in relationships.
- Read Book of 1 John to learn more about honesty and love in relationships.
- Read Loyal, Deep, and Spiritual: Building Friendships That Last a Lifetime.
- Take the What Friendship Culture Do You Create quiz as a fun way to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses in relationships.