I need help. I feel alone, helpless, hopeless, unwanted (and that’s what hurts the most I guess). I’m away at college and it’s my freshman year and everyone I love feels so far away? I thought that I’d be able to take this ‘fast’ from people, but it’s so hard. I hate myself for not being better able to adjust, for not making friends quickly, for not being happy. I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore. God always seems so far away, even if I do pray and read the bible. Please please help.
Hey: I’m really sorry and I know how crippling it is to be lonely. As much as you don’t want to hear it now, please hear me say that you’re totally loved and you’re very much not alone.
Most of us who feel lonely and unwanted get tricked by our flesh into an imprisoning cycle: we think being unwanted means we “deserve” to be unwanted, or that loneliness somehow means we are bad people. We think of it like a permanent virus, but that is NOT true. Those emotions are very real, but they’re more like a fog that you need to keep walking through to the other side where there’s sun.
Being a freshman anywhere (school, job, church, marriage) can be a weird limbo-ish place of growing pains, so please know that it will NOT always be like this. There’s always an “initial phase” of frustration to new journeys that take a little time, and for some it takes longer than others. Don’t ever feel bad about your own pacing: everyone blooms differently. No more guilt about that, all right? Be comfortable with your own rate of growth.
You’re also at an exciting juncture where tons of opportunities are waiting for you, and if you haven’t yet, please check out the local campus ministries and some younger churches near you. There are always student ministries that are ready to embrace you, and while no church is perfect nor a final solution to every issue, it’ll be a start to grow into a new community.
I know how scary this is. Making friends at a certain age has unique challenges — it’s different at 18 and 30 and 50 years old — and I know how awkward it is, but please stick with it. Don’t let fear control your life’s direction.
Find people and seek encouragement and be vulnerable to open your heart. It’s okay to pray for new friends and a good church; it’s good to pray for serving opportunities where your God-given talents will come in handy. Also look for a very solid same-sex mentor, who everyone should have. Along the way you might experience some hurts here and there, like all friends do, but friendship is so often worth the risk.
As far away as God feels, let Him know that. Draw near to Him and tell Him, “I feel so far.” Like I’ve said before: honesty is where healing begins. There’s no one who can say they have not felt that way before, and it’s okay. God understands. We all go through seasons, so please don’t be hard on yourself during a tough one.
When the time comes to open your mouth in prayer and say those first few words, let everything pour out. God is not expecting some eloquent speech, as if our prayers need to meet a standard. He just wants you, messy and real and true. You’ll find His grace starts to restore you piece by piece, almost without you knowing it. Take your time; He’s patient. He’s not yelling at you to catch up: He meets you exactly where you are. You’ll get through this.