Perhaps the most universal problem of divorced people is loneliness. “Sometimes I feel so lonely I can’t stand it,” says one brother. “Even when I am in groups of people I feel lonely, isolated, different, out of the mainstream of life. I had no idea divorce would leave me with this feeling.”
We all tend to see situations strictly from our own point of view. Only when we try to see things from another perspective can we obtain a broader, more accurate view—an eternal perspective. This is especially important for those facing as personal a trial as divorce.
“It helps me to realize that loneliness is not reserved solely for the divorced,” affirms a divorced man. “Fourteen-year-olds can feel lonely. The new family on the block can feel lonely. The new worker in the office or the unemployed can feel lonely. The elderly—and married people of all ages—can feel lonely. The missionary, the student, the serviceman away from home for the first time—all can feel lonely. But loneliness is something we can control; it is a state of mind. And we must not equate loneliness with worthlessness.”
“I decided to use my time alone to be more industrious,” says one brother. “I knew if I tried I could be a more valuable employee. I decided to leave my troubles behind when I went to work, and instead put my energies into going the extra mile in giving greater service both in my work and church position. It has paid off.”
Service to others can also help to ease the pain of loneliness. “When I feel lonely,” says one sister, “I try to think of someone else who is lonely, too. Then I challenge myself to help them, cheer them up, and see that they have a good day. Every time I follow this plan, I forget about my own loneliness.”
You need not be conquered by feelings of loneliness. If you live worthily, you can feel the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit can be an invaluable friend in helping you through “dark times.” He will comfort you and give you assurance of better times to come. After Divorce "Clearing The Hurdles" Ensign Aug 1985 Mary Jane Knights
Causes of Loneliness
- Family and friends pulling back
- Family and friends becoming over-involved
- Feeling as an outsider in a family oriented church
Consequences of Loneliness
- Feeling out of fellowship with God
Cures for Loneliness-- Relying on God to fill that void. Embracing yourself into wholeness and realize you are enough without anybody else.
-God's definition of being alone
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper
suitable for him." Genesis 2: 18
-Avoid new relationships
- Pray to understand and ask for guidance and sustaining power
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and
purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
- Find people who need help and serve in your community
There are lessons that can be learned from your loneliness-positive lessons that can impact
your life in ways far beyond your imagination.
Even though I am active in the Church, I feel lonely. Where can I turn for help in overcoming my loneliness?
Answered by Julie Larsen, Relief Society Spiritual Living teacher in the Aspen Second Ward, Orem Utah Aspen Stake.
Almost everyone at times struggles with loneliness—children who feel left out, adolescent youth who are trying to find their place in the world, single adults who are not married or who are divorced or widowed, parents whose children are growing up and moving on, the elderly who find themselves facing long hours alone. Even those surrounded by family and friends can at times feel alone.
Some Latter-day Saints may wonder how feelings of loneliness can be possible if they are striving to live worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Loneliness, however, is a normal and necessary part of our probation on earth.
When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, they were also separated from the presence of the Lord. Life in this probationary world became a series of experiences that often must be faced alone. An important aspect of being mortal is facing challenges and making choices without our Heavenly Father’s constant presence we once enjoyed (see D&C 58:26–28). Even the Savior’s suffering, “that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12), included loneliness (see Matt. 27:46).
One of the most touching examples of loneliness in the scriptures is when Moroni, after the final battle at Cumorah, “remain[s] alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people” (Morm. 8:3). He continues: “Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not. … I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not” (Morm. 8:4–5). Yet, as acutely bleak and lonely as Moroni’s situation may seem to have been, he was not without comfort and hope. Further reading reveals that “the disciples of Jesus” ministered to Moroni and that he enjoyed close communication with the Lord (see Morm. 8:10–11; Ether 12:29–37). Other possible sources of comfort and strength include his father’s words to him regarding hope in Christ (see Moro. 9:25–26) as well as his own testimony (see Moro. 10:34).
Likewise, the Savior does not leave us entirely alone. He has promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18) and, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
The first place to turn in overcoming loneliness is the Savior’s outstretched hand. He sends the Comforter, whose influence “may abide with [us] for ever” (John 14:16; see also John 14:17) and may help heal the hurt in loneliness. And while the Lord may not completely remove our burdens, he will send comfort.
To receive the companionship of the Spirit, however, we must make our lives worthy. Just as we should strive to keep a year’s supply of food at home, we should strive to be prepared spiritually so that when difficulties arise we will be able to withstand adversity by calling upon our faith to sustain us.
President Ezra Taft Benson explained what we must do to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. “Each week we make a solemn covenant to be like Him [the Lord Jesus Christ], to always remember Him in everything, and to keep all of His commandments. In return, He promises to give us His spirit” (Ensign, Dec. 1988, p. 6). Keeping the commandments not only qualifies us for spiritual guidance but also can make a difference in our feelings of worth and in our ability to build good relationships with others.
It is helpful to consider the benefits that can be reaped from trials like loneliness. For example, single adults can develop a special empathy that allows them to help others who, feeling lonely, are in need of comfort and companionship. Heavenly Father needs servants trained through experience to minister to the needs of his children.
Sometimes we need to learn and do certain things to alleviate our loneliness. In such cases, it is worthwhile to seek help in improving one’s character and broadening one’s interests through study, self-discipline, increased social interaction, and a general willingness to try new things and meet new people.
Elder Richard G. Scott, now of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, commented on the role of personal initiative in overcoming feelings of loneliness and of being excluded:
“The social and sport activities [of my youth] left me feeling alone and unwanted. It was not until a lot later in life that I realized it was largely my fault.
“I have since learned that one cannot demand love and respect or require that the bonds of friendship and appreciation be extended as an unearned right. These blessings must be earned. They come from personal merit. Sincere concern for others, selfless service, and worthy example qualify one for such respect. All my rationalization that others had formed select groups and knowingly ruled out my participation was largely a figment of my imagination. Had I practiced correct principles, I need not have felt alone” (“To the Lonely and Misunderstood,” Brigham Young University 1981–82 Fireside and Devotional Speeches, Provo, Utah: University Publications, p. 199).
Becoming more involved in Church and community activities can also help cure feelings of loneliness. No Latter-day Saint, given the ample opportunities to mingle with, serve, and help others through Church service and activity, need feel alone or unneeded indefinitely.
President Benson said: “Reach out to others. Rather than turning inward, forget self and really serve others in your Church callings, in personal deeds of compassionate service, in unknown, unheralded personal acts of kindness.
“If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden, and your own burden will be lighter. Truly in the words of Jesus of Nazareth: ‘He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.’ (Matt. 10:39.)” (Ensign, Nov. 1988, p. 97).
I have an 88-year-old friend who is almost blind and is completely homebound. Often when I arrive to visit her, another visitor is just leaving. Many of her visitors are friends and neighbors who are in their eighties themselves. Instead of sitting at home, they are giving of themselves to one who has greater needs than they. My friend does not let her physical limitations prevent her from seeking heavenly solace in her times of solitude.
“I talk to the Lord as if he were right here with me,” she says. “The lonelier I get, the closer I get to the Lord. Being alone gives me an opportunity to be quiet, and in my quietness I seek the inspiration that the Lord has offered me.”
She, too, is learning lessons she could not learn without experience.
“A mere hundred years from now today’s seeming deprivations and tribulations will not matter unless we let them matter too much now!” said Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Some deprivations are but delayed blessings, which, if endured well, constitute the readying of reservoirs into which a generous God will pour ‘all that he hath.’ Indeed, it will be the Malachi measure: ‘There shall not be room enough to receive it.’ (Mal. 3:10.)” (We Will Prove Them Herewith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982, pp. 28–29).
Loneliness can be a pivotal experience in our lives. It can be the leaven that allows us to rise to the next step in our spiritual advancement, or it can be a chain that restrains our progress. In the very act of making up our minds to confront loneliness, half the battle is won. For if we seek the Lord through service, prayer, and righteousness, we will find that we are not alone (see Rev. 3:20).