I have to admit... for much of my life thus far, and even sometimes in the here and now, I struggle with feeling lonely. It's not that I am truly alone, per se, but sometimes it just feels like there's no one that is interested in relating to me unless it's to receive something for themselves. (For my spouse or good friends that might be reading this... though we all do this to one another to some degree, I'm not specifically thinking of you, so stop thinking that right now!).
It always bugs me when I feel this way. Not just because I hate being lonely, but because, as a believer, I've always been under the impression that knowing Jesus and being known by him should be plenty good enough to not ever feel alone. Sometimes this leads me to doubt, asking such questions as "do I really know him?" and things of that sort. That just makes loneliness suck that much more!
Recently, my wife and I have been reading a book by Donald Miller called "Searching for God Knows What". In this book, Donald Miller makes a point that was quite a revelation to me in understanding loneliness.
Miller conveys the idea (paraphrasing here) that Adam experienced loneliness, or at least, the Godhead thought it was not good for him to be alone before sin entered the world. Did you catch that? Before Adam ever made a wrong decision in his life, when he was in a perfect, unhindered relationship with the God of the universe - the kind of relationship where they talked all the time, walked around together, etc... Adam could be lonely!
So apparently, loneliness isn't some sign or symptom of a spiritual problem at all! God didn't say "boy, Adam must have a spiritual problem, he's feeling lonely!" In fact, it was the Godhead that came to the conclusion (perhaps before Adam did) that it would not be good for him to be alone - that he needed companionship. God did all this before the sin that would separate Adam (and Eve) from himself ever entered the world! Some could say that God was purely speaking of a mate when speaking these things, but I don't believe that's the case. More on why in a minute (or another post perhaps).
I find great freedom in this in many ways... It's very liberating to know that loneliness doesn't mean something is wrong with me, but that it's part of our human nature - and not necessarily based on some effect of the fall either! I also find it really encouraging that God saw Adam's need for companionship and met the need before Adam even knew he had it. God desired for Adam to not be alone. He desires the same for me and the same for you. It's good to be around others, to have meaningful relationships, etc.
I suspect many people will read this and think... "uh, hello Captain Obvious... loneliness is not good, yeah, we get it, k' thanks bye". I can only say, yeah, I know that too - but it's easy to fall into the evangelical, individualistic trap that is American-Christian-thinking that reduces walking with Jesus to something we individually do in the privacy of our minds. That thinking is wrong and leaves no place for one to process the feelings and thoughts of loneliness.
So, whether obvious to everyone else or not, I for one am glad for this new revelation and in the knowledge that God's desire is for me to be around and enjoy others.