The holiday season is wrapping up and as the new year begins, we tend to take stock of our life for the past 12 months. How far have we come? What have we accomplished? But also, where are we going? These questions can cause many of us stress as we try to measure our lives from one year prior. But often we tend to focus on the wrong things when thinking about our progress. We focus on how much money we made, or how much further in our career we have come, how much better than our peers we are doing. But those thoughts will often lead to feelings of inadequacy because we will always find the person who is doing better, looking better, or is wealthier than us. What we should be focusing on is our personal relationships; the rest is inconsequential in the end.
By focusing on the relationships in our lives, we are better able to combat the hardest part of life, loneliness. All of these thoughts about where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, and where we’re going doesn’t take stock of the people who were there for you along the way. Instead of looking at your life in an inward, selfish way, take a look at all of those in your life who helped you, who made your life better. Vice versa, you should also be thinking about who you helped and what you did that was good and godly. How did that make you feel? More connected to the world? Less lonely?
Maybe it’s hard for you to get out of your shell and ask others for help, or to find the strength to help others. That’s completely understandable! Mother Theresa wasn’t the saintly figure she became overnight. She toiled day in and day out. She worked hard, little by little, everyday. You just have to have the courage to take that first step. The Book of Deuteronomy (31:6) says it well, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” In this passage we are given strength from the Lord to take charge of our lives and do what is best for each of us. When we are lonely or sad, God is with us. When we are feeling inadequate or scared, God is with us. But we have to heed those words and be courageous.
When you’re lonely, you can’t isolate yourself; often our inclination is to hole up in our own world. It’s easier than making an effort to connect with people, but that’s the worst thing to do. Making friends and finding a confidant as an adult is not easy. But we all need someone to go to when we need help or reassurance or advice. We are not in this journey alone. Maybe it starts with you helping someone who you can see needs your help. You sharing that experience with another person and finding a solution to their problem creates a connection with them. These connections, however small, like helping an older person carry something heavy, or holding the door open for a mother and her child, can have a profound effect on your mood and theirs.
Often times loneliness has a partner, anxiety. Anxiety can be just as hard to combat as loneliness, but if you can learn to cope with one, the other will get better. In 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Even back in ancient times, people dealt with anxiety. You’re not alone. Anxiety can make you feel like you’re the only one in the world to feel this way, like there’s something wrong with you. But it’s an issue that humans have been dealing with for millenia. Peter says to cast you anxiety on God and know that he will take care of you. Let go, release those anxieties, and live your life one day at a time.
Remember to be thankful for the good, beautiful people in your life at this time of year. If you feel like you don’t have anyone to connect with just remember that you can change that. Put aside your worries and anxiety, give them to God and he will take the burden for you. Start small, one day at a time, and know that your rewards will come.
About the author
Jessica Faylor lives in California. She and her husband are expecting their first child in February, 2020.