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Loneliness | Steve DeWitt

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2024 1:00 am

Loneliness | Steve DeWitt

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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May 18, 2024 1:00 am

For years, Steve DeWitt was the only never married megachurch pastor in the United States. He spent 8,000 days as an adult single. On this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, hear how Steve dealt with his aloneness and solitude. If you feel the ache of loneliness or you know someone who does, don’t miss the encouragement on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Featured resource: LONELINESS: DON'T HATE IT OR WASTE IT. REDEEM IT.

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Loneliness is not a sin.

It is a gift and a friend that God has given to us that we shouldn't hate and we shouldn't waste, but rather we use and redeem. And it can actually provide what we need to restore what is missing in our lives. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . In a time when loneliness is at an all-time high, we need some help and hope for people who feel the pain of isolation and lack of community. Our guest is Pastor Steve DeWitt, and he is uniquely qualified to speak about this malady and help you redeem the deep ache of loneliness. You'll hear his story and some of the biblical principles he's gleaned from a lifetime of study. Our featured resource is the book Loneliness.

Don't hate it or waste it, redeem it. You can find out more at our website, buildingrelationships.us. Gary, have you ever experienced a season of loneliness either before or after you were married? You know, Chris, as I look back on my life, there's just one time that I really sensed being lonely.

And that was when I was in California for three weeks, or maybe it was four, teaching at a university out there away from my wife and family. And I remember later on sharing that with someone, with a single young man in my counseling, and just telling him how I felt lonely out there. And he said, well, yeah, but lonely, he said, that's different from loneliness. He says, lonely, you knew you were going home later. He said, loneliness is when you don't have any home to go to.

And I thought, oh my goodness, that's pretty powerful. He was a single. I don't have any home to go home to. He really felt isolated. But in terms of having long periods of loneliness in my life, the answer would be no. But that one time, that sense of being lonely, because I didn't know anybody out there. I was just on the campus and didn't know anyone. But I'm looking forward to our conversation because I do think there's an awful lot of people today who are suffering from loneliness.

There's somebody listening right now that that story touched a nerve in them. And so I want you to get a little closer to the radio and listen here today as we meet Steve DeWitt. He has served as senior pastor of Bethel Church since 1997.

Bethel is a non-denominational church in northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland and ministers to its community across multiple campuses. Steve is on the council of the Gospel Coalition. He's a board member of Global Action. His teaching ministry can be heard on his podcast and media ministry, The Journey. Steve and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents of two daughters and her featured resource again is the book Loneliness. Don't hate it or waste it.

Redeem it. You can find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Well, Pastor DeWitt, welcome to Building Relationships.

I'm delighted to be here and have admired your ministry for many years and feel honored to be able to connect in this way. Well, you know, behind every book I found that there is a story. So why would a pastor be qualified to write a book about loneliness? Well, I would go back in my story. There is a unique dimension to my story.

So I have been a pastor for 30 years and for 15 of those years I served as a senior pastor in a very large church as a single man and didn't get married. So I was in my mid 40s. I calculated I had some 8000 nights alone. And, you know, that's a lot of nights to sort of think about, man, what is this feeling I have inside and why do I hurt in the way that I do? And why is it a kind of chronic nagging to your story earlier of the young man? You know, this loneliness, what is it? And, you know, as a pastor, I'm blessed to pastor a lot of people. You know, I'm lonely in a crowd.

I've got all these people. And yet there is this emptiness in me. And so as a pastor theologian type, I thought about it deeply, read about it, lived out many, many years of it. And so I come at this in a unique way. I want to make something clear as well. The book is not a book about lonely singles who need to get married.

Not at all. I think the worst loneliness is marital loneliness. And so I'm not at all advocating marriage as the solution to that, but rather to think biblically with a Christian worldview about what is loneliness? What is aloneness? What is solitude?

And what is bad about that? And what can we do to redeem it? So that's how I come at the topic. I think you're qualified.

I'm excited about the book and about our conversation today. But let me just ask you this while we're on your personal story. When you were young, did you anticipate and expect that someday I'm going to be married?

I absolutely did. In fact, I prayed, I can say, almost every week for 25 years from age 18 to age 43. I prayed every week for not only a wife, but that wife and prayed for her, whoever she might be, hoping that, you know, I would get married. And so I was not a celibate-till-the-rapture type Christian by any means. I was hopeful and dated and prayerful and all of that. So yes, I very much wanted to, hoped to, but it just never quite got there for me.

Yeah. Well, I would think being the pastor of a megachurch and being single, I mean, were you the only one in the country that fell in that category? I didn't know it at the time, but a couple years ago, a couple of megachurch experts who study megachurches and, you know, are, I think, the leading national experts on it. They told me I was, at that time, the only never-married megachurch pastor in the United States. I'm glad I found out later. I might have been depressed to hear that at the time, but it's apparently something unique about me.

Yeah, maybe so. Well, there's something unique about all of us, let's face it, okay? Now, you say that you spent 8,000 nights of adulthood alone. What was the hardest part of those lonely days? Well, that is a very interesting question, and I would say that those that maybe are listening who, you know, live largely alone are curious as to what I would say, because, you know, it's one thing, you mentioned you're three weeks alone, and, you know, speaking for those who live alone years are, you know, the little violin that's playing right now as our heart bleeds for you for those three weeks, because you get three years, you get 30 years of being alone, and it's a whole new kind of experience. I would say one of the things that was such a challenge for me was the sameness. You know, I would leave my house every morning, and when I came home, it was exactly the way it was when I left, and I used to say the only thing worse than a lot of noise in the house is no noise in the house, and I think that there's a kind of grinding sameness that aloneness brings because the only variety of life comes from you. You don't have that conversationalist.

You don't have that, you know, other interests or hobbies or whatever the other person might represent that just brings some variety, some spice, some interest. Rather, every day is just you, and I chafed under the sameness of my life. Despite the church, despite all the people, and truly, I mean, my church was wonderful over all those years. There's probably, you know, few pastors that have been in as many homes and had as many meals and whether that's in their home or delivered to my doorstep.

I mean, our church was just fantastic. Yet, you know, life is long, and aloneness, which I view as being neither bad nor good, it is, to me, neutral. Aloneness has its own grinding sameness that I found challenging. I'm sure a lot of our listeners who are single and perhaps have been single for a while are really identifying, you know, with what you're saying. And part of what I hear you saying, however, is that a single person doesn't have to be a lonely person, and a married person is not immune from loneliness.

Yes, indeed. And, you know, here's where I can speak on both sides of that. I had 8,000 nights of adulthood alone, and now I've been married almost for 12 years.

I have two daughters, so I've experienced both sides of this. And, you know, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 7, spoke with a lot of wisdom. You know, he urged those that are single to recognize that it's a gift. There are aspects to singleness that married people would love to have again.

And yet there are aspects to married life that, you know, marriage is also a gift and has its own unique responsibilities and its own unique blessings. And so we just have to, I think, recognize and not have expectations that either singleness is going to be lonely, because it doesn't have to be, nor that marriage is going to satisfy that longing that we have that is part of our imago Dei, part of how God made us, and that marriage after the fall is also, in many respects, going to fall short of what our instincts, our image-bearing longs for. And so I would say that loneliness in singleness, you know, the one thing about that is that you maybe think, if I have a marriage, if I have family, then this ache would go away. I think this is the particular pain of marital loneliness, and that is that you have these things, and yet you still feel something is missing. And in a unhealthy marriage situation, an unhealthy home, those can be very acute feelings and very, very painful ones. So the book is really written about loneliness generally, and specifically about Christian solutions and gospel solutions to loneliness, no matter your marital status, and not to look to your marital status as the cause of your loneliness.

It's simply the status of your life, and the gospel solutions apply either way. Yeah. So being alone and being lonely are two different things.

Yes, very much so. Let me unpack that a second. So let's go back to Genesis 1 and 2. God creates Adam, and he identifies that it's not good for Adam to be alone. Now, I would maintain that Adam was not lonely.

Adam was alone. And God recognized that for the pinnacle of his creation, which is humanity, to reflect what he is like within his Trinity, which is unity and diversity, three in one, that Adam being alone was an incomplete picture of what he is like. And so he purposed to create Eve to fix Adam's aloneness, not to fix his loneliness. I would maintain loneliness doesn't appear until after the fall. Not that loneliness is a sin, and maybe we'll get into this a little bit, but it is the result of sin, both vertically, we're lonely with God, and horizontally, we are insufficiently satisfied in human relationships after the fall, no matter how robust the marriage or the friendship may be. So aloneness is neutral, loneliness is bad, and solitude is good.

And to understand our feelings in those three categories I think is very helpful. You know, our hearts go out to the lonely, we want to help them, and I think God wants to help the lonely, and the gospel provides that. Aloneness is not itself a problem.

Now, some people are extroverted, some people are introverted, you know, there's a spectrum here. But being alone is not theologically or biblically or morally a problem. It's what happens when loneliness weaponizes our aloneness against us, that it turns in this negative way. And I would maintain that solitude, which is using our aloneness in healthy ways, is actually a good thing, and that we all would do better to cultivate healthy solitude in our lives.

So those three categories I think are good ones to put the feelings or the status that we're in, and to understand what is bad about loneliness, and what is okay about aloneness, and what can be good about solitude. Yeah, I want to come back to that in a minute, but let me talk about the current situation, because I've heard more about loneliness since the COVID pandemic than I did, you know, the years before that. So what did the pandemic do in our society as far as loneliness goes? Well, I can just tell you that, you know, this isn't me saying this, this is the Surgeon General, this is pretty much every study that's out there, is that loneliness is an epidemic. So we had a pandemic that said an epidemic, and that epidemic is the aloneness that social distancing, and sheltering in place, and even the rancor that surrounded these things as people tribalized and relationships frayed.

All of this only augmented and amplified what was already a problem in the 2010s. So we live today in a time where the medical community is ringing the bell that we are the loneliest humans ever. We're the most connected socially, media, and simultaneously the most lonely people of history. And the pandemic was, I think, a little bit of an inflection point that took cracks that were already there in our society, and in churches, and in families, and, you know, political persuasions, and just, you know, magnified those. So here we are now, what, three or four years after the core of the pandemic, and you'd like to think that everyone's, you know, harmonized and restored, and yet we continue to be fractured, and our society is, you know, fraying. And so I think all of us, probably every listener here would say, yeah, it's kind of worse now. And if you were lonely before the pandemic, you are acutely lonely likely after it. So we all kind of wish we could go back a few years to when it was different than it is right now.

I know. Very, very true. I don't know if any theological school has a course on the theology of loneliness, but could you address that idea? Is there a theology of loneliness?

Well, there should be, and maybe my book is a small contribution, that direction, because I think when it comes to loneliness, you know, much like I would say hunger or thirst, you know, understanding why I feel that way is one step towards curing it. And the Bible explains why human beings are lonely. And it goes back to, again, our kind of inner architecture as image bearers of God. We were made for something. We were made for someone. And so we were made for a harmonized vertical relationship with God, our Creator. We were made for harmonized relationships with other people. And our hearts instinctively long for that. There's an ancient memory, if you will, that we have when everything was right with God and right with other people.

Obviously, sin enters into the world, and instantly, both the vertical and the horizontal relationships are broken. Adam and Eve instantly feel naked. And I spent some time talking about nakedness in the book, much to the editor's chagrin, but I think it's important to understand why we feel physically naked. And the Bible says that this is part of our imago Dei, that we feel a sense of shame. Now we want to hide from God. We even want to hide from other people. And those clothes that we put on are, you know, they're not just fashion.

They are theological statements that go back to the Garden of Eden that explain why we do not feel harmonized with God and the shame that we feel with true vulnerability with who we truly are with other people. So I kind of make the point in the book that, you know, we shower every day. We don't think about it because we're alone.

But if we were showering in a social setting, it would feel very different than that. And all of that ties into why we feel lonely. So I would maintain that loneliness is not a sin. Okay, loneliness, feeling lonely is not a sin. It is rather an indicator that God built into our image bearing to indicate that something isn't quite healthy, that something is missing, that loneliness is not the presence of something.

It is the absence of something. And we feel that absence as a kind of longing for someone that will satisfy that relational longing that we all instinctively have. Now, Augustine, of course, says our hearts are restless until they find the rest of me. And so there is this vertical dimension that is essential to who we are. But there is then this horizontal that, you know, we're made for community with other people. And when we don't have that community with other people, we feel a kind of ache. So I talk about loneliness.

It's kind of like it's like hunger or thirst or perhaps even grief where we wouldn't say it's a sin to be hungry or thirsty or to grieve. But rather, we see that those are the those are indicators that something is missing or someone is missing. So when we're hungry, we go get something, get some food or thirst.

We get something to drink when we feel lonely. We are that is a gift from God, like the engine light in your car is a gift from Honda or GM to indicate when something needs to be addressed. And so I urge them that we take the energy and loneliness provides a kind of energy.

And we take that and we pursue the very thing that is absent. And we'll get into this, I think, in a moment about how the gospel provides avenues for that. And I think the church is a wonderful context for that to happen. But my main thing is understanding the theology of loneliness as a part of being an image bearer of God. It is not a sin. It is the result of sin. And it is a gift and a friend that God has given to us that we shouldn't hate and we shouldn't waste.

But rather we use and redeem and it can actually provide what we need to restore what is missing in our lives. We hope you're enjoying the Building Relationships podcast. Tell a friend about this conversation. And if you know somebody who's going through bouts of loneliness, send them to buildingrelationships.us. Featured resource is the book by Steve DeWitt, Loneliness, Don't Hate It or Waste It, Redeem It. You can find that and more at buildingrelationships.us. Steve, you say that the depth of your loneliness signals the opposite height of your potential joy.

What leads you to say that? Well, in the book I use the illustration of my daughters who love to swing at the park. And so I will push them. I do the run under. The higher you go on the one side, the higher they go on the other. They squeal.

They love it. It's a picture, I think, of the power of loneliness to indicate the glory of what comes on the other side of it. You know, when we're missing God, that ache for God is a kind of backhanded compliment to how great it is to know God, to be reconciled to God. And similarly, that longing, the pain of loneliness and the ache of loneliness, it's not a small thing. It's a huge thing.

It can take over your life. It indicates, the magnitude of it indicates its importance, which also I think should encourage us that getting this right, there is a great joy on the other side of this, that the absence of it is very painful, but the presence of it can be a great blessing in our life. And to allow that acute pain to motivate us to deal with these matters that are absent in our life and to pursue healthy relationships with God and with others, there is a great joy on the other side that the pain indicates the importance of. That was a very poor sentence, grammatically, but hopefully it communicated to the listeners what I'm getting at. Yeah, I think so. Yeah, absolutely.

You know, the subtitle of your book says, Don't Hate or Waste Your Loneliness. Tell us a little more about that. How do you turn it into that, in that direction? Yeah, well, so I was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and have spent time driving around the Upper Midwest. And, you know, it's beautiful. It's great that you see these cabins and these homes and these trailers back up in the woods. And I oftentimes, as I drive through, I think about these people and I wonder, how do they make a go of it? You know, how are they doing life and why would somebody choose to live so remotely from other people? And I think if we went around and interviewed, not all, but there would be some who are running away from mommy, running away from a painful relationship with dad, running away from, you know, the isolation that they have chosen is a reaction to the pain of that relational break. And there they nurse that hurt, what I would call, they hate their loneliness. And in that way, they waste their loneliness.

And you don't have to live in the woods of Northern Michigan. You can live in an apartment complex and in a sense be living in the woods, relationally, running away from the very thing that would fill that void in your life. And so I think the reality of living in a fallen world, we live with other sinners, all our family members are sinners, all our friends are sinners.

Everyone in church is a sinner. Inevitably, we pick up painful things along the way. And we can take that ache and we can, it can weaponize inside of us in ways that lead to unforgiveness, disharmony, a commitment to never reconciling or whatever that might be. So we see this all the time and it's true all over the world.

What I am advocating for is rather than simply stewing over your loneliness and hating it, rather than ignoring it and wasting it, to realize that loneliness is a gift from God. God built it into us and it's prickly and it prods and it hurts, but it does so for a reason. If it didn't, we would easily ignore it.

We can't ignore it. The pain is a part of the pleasure. It is part of the blessing that God intended to move us towards the things that are life-giving.

Relationships that are life-giving, forgiveness that provides health, all these things are a gift from God. You know, I don't like feeling hungry, like we're doing this interview right now and it's almost lunchtime. And I don't like the feeling of hungry. I don't like feeling thirsty. But I'm glad that I don't like feeling thirsty because that makes me want to drink something.

And hunger makes me want to eat something. And loneliness should make us want what God designed for us to find satisfaction in. If we don't resent it, but embrace it and redeem it, that's the key. That makes a lot of sense. You know, you also write that the gospel provides the paradigm for overcoming loneliness.

Tell us more about that. Well, this is part of the whole redeeming of loneliness that I think is so exciting. You know, obviously I'm a Christian. I'm a Christian pastor, Christian author. And so I'm looking at this through the Christian worldview, through the biblical worldview. And so we think of that theology of loneliness, that the pain of loneliness, not a sin itself, but the result of sin and an indication that I am not harmonized with God and or not harmonized with other people. So we get to the New Testament and here comes Jesus. And there's obviously so much that we could say about Jesus, but with respect to loneliness, to understand that Jesus also experienced loneliness, cries out from the cross, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We know that he was alone, certainly during his temptation, until Satan came along. And Jesus provides a paradigm for humanity as God intended it to be. And the cross of Jesus provides a similar paradigm for how we human beings can live the best life, the most satisfied life, the life that God intended for us. We look at the cross and there on the cross, we have ultimate love. We have ultimate self-giving. I define love as self-giving for the good and joy of another. Jesus gives all that he has to us, dies on the cross for our sins.

And, you know, we obviously have little indications of this before the cross. He washes the disciples' feet, his compassion for the poor, you know, the grieving mother, the hungry, et cetera. So this whole life was oriented towards others. And so I encourage and even in my own experience, the way to mitigate loneliness is like Jesus. Rather than looking for people who are going to meet this ache that I have in my life, to come along and satisfy the needs that I have, that we essentially mitigate our loneliness by giving to others the love that we long for. In other words, try to meet the loneliness in other people's life. And that example of Jesus lived out in us, that love of God through us mitigates the loneliness in us. I would say that rather than just looking in the mirror and saying, I'm just so lonely, why am I so lonely, blah, blah, blah, to meet the needs of other people practically, and you're going to get back to your apartment, get back to your dorm, get back to your house, and be like, where did my loneliness go?

I can't find it now because I have given of myself to other people. Now, if I could just add on that, this is where I think marriage does provide a certain kind of advantage when it comes to loneliness, because it's not hard in marriage to find somebody that you need to live for their joy and to meet their needs. Marriage is the most intense place where the spouse has to live for the joy of the other. But as you do that, in the strange way that God has designed, it meets that relational need in our hearts. I think in some ways this is why even a pet in a small way kind of gets people that direction, because even if you're living alone, if you have a pet, there's something else that you're living for besides yourself. You care for that pet.

You want to take care of that pet. And in a small way, and for some people maybe it's a large way, that also mitigates that loneliness because you are giving of yourself to someone else. And that, of course, is all these are little pictures of what Jesus did on the cross. And so I would maintain that a Christian who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior, but also admires Jesus and wants to live like Jesus in their life, that example of self-sacrifice is perhaps the greatest mitigator of loneliness. And I call it gospelizing your loneliness.

Take that paradigm of Jesus on the cross and strive in your life to similarly give of yourself for others. And as we do that, our loneliness ebbs away. You know, Steve, in the last session you talked about serving others, and you mentioned that marriage gives you a wonderful opportunity to serve another person. It kind of ties in with the love language concept, because if I know what makes my wife feel loved, then I choose to speak her love language. Yeah, there's a reciprocal thing that happens because love stimulates love. You know, the Bible says we love God because he first loved us.

We're responding to his love for us. And you mentioned that pet thing. I had a lady tell me the other day, she said, you know, my husband's been gone now.

He died, had been gone for two years. And she said, I got a pet because I just wanted something else alive to be in the house with me. I see that, you know. And as you mentioned, it requires service to take care of a pet.

So yeah, it's pretty powerful. Well, let's talk about the core theme of your book on loneliness. What is the core theme, and how did you discover the core theme? Well, as I said in the earlier segment, the core theme is that it is the love of God through us to others that mitigates loneliness in us. And I focus on the gospel, gospelizing our loneliness, not only looking at our loneliness, but treating our loneliness by the example of Jesus, who in utter humility, despite being the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, empties himself, Philippians 2, gives to us all that he has.

And in doing that provides an example for us as well, besides the redeeming, he provides an example for us of what the kind of life that is the least lonely and the most satisfying. And it has to do with whether we are oriented toward ourselves or oriented towards other people. So pride is our enemy. It is the enemy of relational flourishing.

It is the enemy of everything that God intends for us, the blessings of being image bearers. It complicates relationships. And so in order for us to conquer loneliness, we have to get over ourselves.

If I could vamp on a old sentence, be killing pride or pride will be killing your relationships. And I discovered this because of my own selfishness and my own, you know, self-orientation that, you know, over time I can look at and see how it has affected key relationships in my life. I would imagine most of us probably can look in the mirror similarly and see how our selfishness adds to our loneliness. It diminishes the relationships that we could otherwise have.

And it amplifies that achy, lonely feeling inside. So I go back to the gospel. I go back to the call of what it means to be a Christian, that we are to take up our cross and to follow Jesus. You know, by how do we gain life?

By losing our life. And those who lose their life, Jesus says, will find it, will gain it. And this includes the blessing that God intended restored relationship with him and others to provide in our lives.

And I would see that as a byproduct. Loneliness isn't the main thing in New Testament theology, but it certainly is a byproduct blessing of following Jesus, taking up our cross, living by his example, denying ourselves, dying to ourselves and living for the good and joy of others. And that whole gospel paradigm not only glorifies God, but it produces good in us. And I would maintain that the person who's dying to themselves, living for others, serving Jesus, is going to have a hard time going home and finding loneliness.

Yeah. I hope our listeners are listening to what you just said, because it is absolutely incredibly powerful. And you're right. It is at the heart of the gospel. Steve, as we come toward the end of our time together, let's say that someone has listened today who has chronic loneliness.

I mean, it's just been with them for a long time, and it's very, very deep. What are a few things that they might do that would help them in that situation? Well, this is my story, and I want to first of all say that I understand. I understand no matter how contributing you've been to your isolation, your loneliness, perhaps your loneliness.

I understand that. And I want you to know that there is a way for this to be redeemed and that God's will is not for his children to be lonely, to flash a little flicker of hope that it doesn't always have to be this way. I think would be the first thing, because one of the things about loneliness that I think it brings with it this sense that it will never be better than this, that I'm always going to feel this way, that this is the, you know, this is the curse of the rest of my life. And I want to say emphatically, it doesn't have to be that way for you. So we begin there.

OK, you're not stuck. Secondly, I would encourage, you know, we were talking about pride earlier. There may be reasons that an honest friend, trusted mentor, somebody that you could ask that they might identify as being contributing to your loneliness.

We all have blind spots. You know, we all have kind of relational idiosyncrasies, some of which get in the way of healthy relationships. And I would encourage you to think about somebody that you could be honest with and just ask them, honestly, what do you see in the manner of my life, my personality traits, the way I relate to people that you think cause this?

I want to redeem it. I don't want to be stuck. And would you please be honest with me? Because, you know, sometimes these things can be fairly easily tweaked. And a little tweaking can go a long ways towards healthy relationships.

Obviously, the gospel urges us to forgiveness and towards a posture of peace towards other people. And maybe that loneliness is a broken relationship that in some measure could be healed and would at least, you know, dial down the pain that it represents. I also would add, I think social media today is a terribly complicating factor in loneliness. And all the studies indicate that, you know, the doom scrolling, they call it now bed rotting where you just lay in bed and, you know, just constantly going through social media.

All of that. It doesn't help. It hurts. You know, we think that we're actually seeing what people are doing. We're more connected. No, we're not.

God intended us to be embodied. OK, we're made for face to face relationships with other people. And the whole social media phenomenon has been hugely detrimental to healthy human relationships. And so then I would further add that a healthy local church can be a huge blessing for somebody who's lonely. And not every church is healthy and not every Christian you're going to say hi to is, you know, is healthy. But I would encourage Christian people struggling with loneliness to go to church.

But here's the deal. You don't go to church thinking, who can I meet that's going to satisfy the relational longings of my heart. If you do that, you will remain lonely and probably won't stick in that church very long. We go to God's people. We go to the community of faith. And our heart and posture is who here can I serve? Whose relational needs can I meet? How can I come here as a servant? How can I carry that cross into the church? Again, we deal with the ache of loneliness.

We give it away. OK, you have to give your loneliness away. And a local church is a great place to do that. And perhaps even go to the pastor and say, hey, you know what? I'm coming here. I boy, I have been alone and I'm just craving community. I want to serve.

What can I do? And I'll bet every pastor would, you know, he'd smile and be so happy. And and I suspect six months from six months from now, your internal experience of loneliness will be very different. If you give yourself to serving God in a local church.

So those would be a few tips. I got a few more in the book. But you're not stuck, brother, sister. You're not stuck. Redeem it.

Redeem it. And I think God will bless you in your endeavor to do so. Well, Steve, that's a good word. And I know if there are those listening today who are suffering from chronic loneliness, these practical steps you just gave are powerful. And I want to encourage our listeners to get the book, read the book. God will use the kind of things you've heard today on the air as you read through it again, think your way through it. You can take the kind of positive steps that that pastor has been talking about. So thanks again for being with us today and thanks for sharing a part of your own journey. And you're actually doing what you're preaching. You're serving others by writing this book. So thank you for that ministry.

You bet. Well, we hope the conversation has been encouraging to you to dig deeper into this topic of loneliness. Go to buildingrelationships.us. You'll see our featured resource. Pastor Steve DeWitt's book, Loneliness. Don't hate it or waste it.

Redeem it. Again, find out more at buildingrelationships.us. And next week, I want to hear your questions and comments. Dear Gary is coming up in one week and you can call and leave a question right now on our listener line. 1-866-424-GARY. Again, 866-424-4279. Before we conclude, a big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-18 02:09:14 / 2024-05-18 02:24:26 / 15

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