The other night on the evening news, I heard a doctor talking about taking care of our emotional health. Depression, anxiety, and generalized stress are all on the rise. Mental health experts and physicians alike are all concerned about the number of people who are reportedly lonely. Loneliness has a direct impact on joy, and if left untreated, it results in depression. And here’s the thing: loneliness can hit in your marriage, in a crowded room, or in the workplace, and it is primarily linked with how disconnected you feel.
So, what’s the secret?
Deepen your connections. When we prioritize our connection to Christ and our friends, our joy levels rise.
Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends” (John 15:11-14). Jesus’ desire is intimate friendship with you.
In the Old Testament, the Psalmist writes, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” (Palm 23:6). The word for “love” that’s used here in Hebrew is the word hesed. It’s an interesting word because, beyond meaning love, it means a secure attachment. Psychologists will tell you how important secure attachment is for our emotional well-being. This is why moms are encouraged to spend time bonding with their infants so that their child develops a secure attachment. Once that secure attachment develops, they are more easily able to develop deep bonded relationships with others. The great news is, God provides that secure attachment for us and invites us to develop deep connections with others.
So where do we start in developing intimacy with Christ and deeper connections with others?
Here are 3 joy hacks to help you beat loneliness:
Cultivate an Intimate Relationship with God. Spend time intentionally praising God every day, savoring His presence, and enjoying His Word. Dr. Carolyn Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist specializing in cognitive and meta-cognitive neuropsychology, teaches that “when we thank, praise, and worship God, we prime our circuits for high intellectual function and every cell in our body is positively affected.”2 As a result, joy and gladness increase and loneliness and depression decrease. How does this happen? I could try to explain it scientifically, but honestly, I’m not going to try. Science is merely just backing up what God has said all along, and that’s that you were designed for intimacy with Him. The more you enjoy God’s presence through praise, worship, prayer, and reading His Word, the less lonely you will feel. If you do what you’re designed to do, joy and gladness will rise up in you.
Prioritize Your Friendships. Just recently, I spent several hours with a dear friend who I’ve known for over twenty years. We hadn’t been able to get together for several months because of both of our schedules. But oh, what joy to sit and talk for hours, get on our knees together and worship, and simply catch up on life and how to pray for one another.
Research has proven that isolation increases feelings of depression, loneliness, and anxiety. If you feel lonely, rather than accepting the role of a victim, take initiative. Write a card. Send a text message. Bring a meal to a neighbor. Invite a friend to coffee. Pick up the phone and call someone to simply encourage them. In seasons of loneliness or sadness, a good rule of thumb is to encourage 3 people daily. The great thing about seeking to encourage others is that, as you encourage them, there is a ricochet effect on you. Your joy will be strengthened as you seek to love others well. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 teaches us that friendships strengthen us and help us stand in days of trouble. Friendship was God’s idea. After all, Jesus told His disciples that they were His friends (John 15:12-15).
Gather and Get Into the Word. If you’re feeling lonely, gather some friends, and get into the Word of God together. I have a new series of books releasing called The Girlfriend Gathering Series. The idea behind these very short books is to gather some of your besties, and either do the study on a retreat together or in a short 4-week Bible study. The first one is called Rooted Joy. It is a short study based on Philippians loaded with great ideas to nurture your friendships, and it releases May 2nd.
Friends, God wants your life to be full of joy. So, cultivate intimacy with Him, prioritize your friendships, and gather and get into the Word. I guarantee joy will rise and loneliness will diminish.
Announcing a Double Header! I don’t usually release two books one month apart, however, I am doing that in April and May. You can pre-order both and start planning now to use these resources this Spring, Summer, or in the Fall!
To pre-order Our Father, click here.
To pre-order Rooted Joy, click here.
This week on The Connected Mom Podcast we’re talking with author Amber Lia about what triggers you to become angry in your parenting journey!
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