I Was Surrounded by People but Still Felt Lonely
March 2024

“I Was Surrounded by People but Still Felt Lonely,” Liahona, Mar. 2024.

Young Adults

I Was Surrounded by People but Still Felt Lonely

When I moved far from home, my connection to heaven helped me overcome loneliness.

a woman with light rays surrounding her, while various people walk around her

You know that feeling where you’re surrounded by people but still feel completely alone?

Since leaving my home country of Uganda and moving to Dubai for work, I’ve felt lonely almost constantly. Back home in my neighborhood, people greeted each other on the street. We knew each other. We supported each other. I had many friends and family who were of my faith.

But it’s not the same here. I live in a very different culture, in a big city and surrounded by people who work busy jobs. And even though I do attend my ward and have tried to get to know other young adults and ward members, our busy work schedules make it almost impossible to see each other for more than just the couple of hours we spend at church each week.

Dubai is big and glamorous, and I’m grateful to be here. But it can be so overwhelming, especially when you’re feeling lonely. People have so much here and seem to have their lives figured out. However, as I’m living among all this fancy stuff and these beautiful buildings, I sometimes wonder:

What am I doing with my life? Is this even the right place for me?

Finding Belonging Again

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that “a sense of belonging is important to our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.”1 I hadn’t realized just how essential that sense of belonging was until I didn’t feel it anymore—not at church and not anywhere, really.

How was I going to find it now, far from everyone I loved?

Over time, I started to recognize “the centrality of Jesus Christ to belonging.”2

As much as I still missed my friends and family, I began to see that I hadn’t been separated from everyone in my life when I’d moved—I still had a Savior and a loving Heavenly Father who always wanted to stay connected to me.

So I started doing what I could to connect with Them better every day. I began listening to Come, Follow Me study podcasts when I went running. I put in my headphones at work and listened to the scriptures while I was completing tasks.

Most importantly, I learned what an amazing gift it is to be able to pray directly to Heavenly Father. I speak to Him more frequently and more thoughtfully than I ever have before. When I feel lonely, I pray and feel His comfort. When I’m typing up an email and trying to stay patient with my coworkers, I pray and ask Him for help.

I love what President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) said about prayer: “To those … who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength; it is the passport to peace. Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us. Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer.”3

By making time for Them in my life, especially through sincere prayer, I began to see that although I wasn’t surrounded by my people and my own culture, I could still be surrounded by the Spirit and feel God’s love.

We Can Always Be Connected

Things are still hard, but I have hope for the future. And I’ve come to believe what Brother Milton Camargo, First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, taught: “The Lord Jesus Christ lives today. He can be an active, daily presence in our lives. He is the solution to our problems, but we must lift our eyes and raise our sights to see Him.”4

I’m still lonely at times, but I know that I will always, always be able to pray to my Heavenly Father and access the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Standing or kneeling, alone or in a group, I can pray.

I can cry to Heavenly Father.

I can give thanks.

I can ask for guidance and protection.

And through my covenant connection, I know that I, a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father, will always belong to Him. Through His guidance, I can feel confident that I am in the right place, doing what He would have me do.