“When You’re Feeling Lonely,” For the Strength of Youth, June 2023
Have you ever felt lonely? I have. When I was seven, I cried to my mom because I didn’t have close friends at school. When I was a teenager, I was one of the only young women in a Sunday School class of mostly boys (and obviously, I didn’t want to talk to them!). And I sometimes had a hard time fitting in with people on my teams or in my classes at school.
But one time I felt loneliest was on my mission in Guadalajara, Mexico. I had arrived only a few days before, and I didn’t speak much Spanish. My companion spoke only Spanish. We mostly communicated through the few words I’d learned at the missionary training center and with a lot of pointing. To top it off, our apartment temporarily didn’t have electricity or hot water. I was out of my comfort zone, big time, and I felt so alone.
Chances are, you’ve had times where you’ve felt lonely too. Maybe you are:
Struggling to fit in at school or are being bullied.
Not getting along with some of your friends.
The only member of the Church at your school.
Living in a new city or country.
Missing a family member who is on a mission or in the military or has passed away.
Feeling separated from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ because of sin.
When you’re feeling lonely, you can look to the Savior. He knows exactly how loneliness feels, and He knows exactly how to help you. Here are some things we can learn about overcoming loneliness from what the Savior endured during His atoning sacrifice.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has called the Savior’s Atonement “the loneliest journey ever made.”2 While Christ suffered and bled from every pore in the garden of Gethsemane, His disciples slept.
As Jesus suffered, He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Though the Savior’s burden was not taken away, “There appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:42–43).
Heavenly Father sent an angel to strengthen His Son in His suffering. And He will strengthen us in our loneliness. On my mission, we were sent “angels” in the form of members in the ward, who offered us warm blankets, showers, and food right when it meant the most to me.
Sometimes you may feel so lonely that you feel forsaken, or abandoned, by God. But He has not forsaken you. And Jesus Christ understands how lonely you feel.
After the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane, He was betrayed by one of His Apostles. He was denied by faithful followers and friends. Elder Holland explains that “what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement [came in] that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when [the Savior] cries in ultimate loneliness, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’”3
For a moment on the cross, the Savior felt completely alone.
But “a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour,” Elder Holland explains. “Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering.”4
Just as Heavenly Father never forsook the Savior, He will never forsake you. You may not always recognize it, but He is close to you. He knows your sorrows and hears your prayers. He is always there for you with arms outstretched (see Mosiah 16:12).
Though we are never forsaken by our Heavenly Father, we do sometimes make choices that separate us from Him and Jesus Christ for a time. This separation can make us feel very lonely. But Jesus Christ understands this too.
Heavenly Father never forsook His Son, but He “briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence,” Elder Holland explains. “This perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong … had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins … to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.”5
The Savior understands how lonely it can feel when we sin. And because He took upon Himself our sins, we don’t have to be lonely long. We can repent and come close to God once more. It is never too late.
As we strive keep our covenants, we’re promised to always have His Spirit to be with us. This means that if we’re repenting daily and trying to choose the right, we may feel lonely, but we’re never really alone.
No matter why you’re lonely or how lonely you might feel, know that the Savior understands. He has experienced the ultimate loneliness during the greatest suffering anyone has ever known.
“I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands,” He says. “Thy walls are continually before me” (1 Nephi 21:16). He knows your loneliness. He knows you. Because of His atoning sacrifice, you don’t have to be alone.