Since I am not a qualified expert, I want to share what has helped me in dealing with loneliness. I don’t have all the answers, and each person’s journey is unique. It may not all apply to you, but at least it might give you some new ideas or a perspective you haven’t considered much before.
One of the biggest areas that has caused loneliness for me is feeling “different” and having a sense of not belonging. Many Side B Christians have sensed this from an early age. It may be due to the fact that they displayed gender atypical behaviour, and felt ostracised by their peers. But even those who fit most gender stereotypes, still often have an overall feeling that they are different. They don’t quite fit in somehow, and they don’t quite know why.
And if you are a believer, then it’s often REALLY tough to admit that you struggle with SSA. I know, because I’ve been in churches where I felt too fearful to open up. I didn’t know if I would be accepted or rejected. I had no idea how people would react. Would they treat me differently? Would they still allow me to participate in ministry? Would they assume that they can pray for me to be healed or delivered, and I would instantly be better? Would they get disappointed in me if I continued to struggle?
Further, since I had not lived in the lesbian lifestyle prior to conversion, I didn’t have a nice testimony to convince people I had totally changed. I couldn’t pretend it was all in my past! Plus I’ve had other temptations and emotional struggles, which are really tough to talk about. Being bisexual and Christian is a bit complicated sometimes. I didn’t want people to stereotype me, or put me into some sort of box or category, which doesn’t really define who I am.
Over the years, I have found that sharing my secrets and true struggles has enabled me to find true friends and genuine community. I have not necessarily shared it with everyone, but I have found a few trusted friends I can talk to. It has lifted the sense of shame and secrecy from the events of the past, and also from my current battles.
What was once the huge elephant in the room suddenly shrinks and becomes like a little mouse! It no longer seems like such a big deal, once it is brought into the light. Of course, it doesn’t take away the problem entirely – but it takes away some of the intense shame, fear and condemnation, which kept me trapped. The more I have shared about my struggle with SSA, the more I have discovered that people are surprisingly accepting and it’s not as big a deal as I thought.
Further, loneliness is a common problem that plagues single Christians of all different ages, backgrounds and circumstances. (That’s not to say that married people can’t be lonely too, though!) At times it can be lonely just being a Christian, as we experience exclusion, opposition and even persecution. There are also many facets of our contemporary Western society that strongly contribute to problems of isolation, touch hunger and loneliness for nearly everyone.
Many books and resources about singleness can be very helpful if you are in this situation. I enjoyed reading ‘The Single Issue’ by Al Hsu and found that he provides a balanced perspective on solitude, community, freedom, temptations and romance. I also like some of the free Boundless Podcasts, which often address the topic of being single and the unique challenges that come with it.
Even though God doesn’t always take away our loneliness completely, it is freeing and healing to realise that He knows. He is with you. He understands you. He feels your pain and grief. Jesus knows what it’s like to be rejected and alone on the Cross. Sometimes God does completely fill the gap and take away the loneliness, but other times He reassures and comforts us in the midst of our suffering.
I wish He would take it all away and make me feel better, but I’m learning to trust Him even in times of pain, weakness and desperation. It leads me to depend on Him even more. It can be important to acknowledge that our loneliness is a form of suffering, and a trial that we go through. Trying to deny it or ignore the problem can just make it worse.
If you are going through a period of loneliness and despair, I would highly recommend this song ‘You Were on the Cross’ by Matt Maher. It is deeply profound and moving.
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