How I’m Learning to Lose the Lonely
November 2023

How I’m Learning to Lose the Lonely

Do you struggle with loneliness? Here is what conference taught me about how to break free.

a hand reaching out to a sad woman

When I sat down to the first session of general conference, I felt overwhelmingly lonely. I used to watch every conference with other people—or at least one other person—but not this time. I didn’t really have anyone around to watch it with.

That’s one of the hardest things I struggle with: despite often being surrounded by so many people, I frequently feel like no one is there.

I’m not always alone, but I do feel lonely.

By the second session, I was struggling to pay attention to the speakers while sitting by myself on my couch. But since I’ve recently been looking into schools in England, my ears perked up at the mention of “Oxford.”1

I laughed at Elder Alan T. Phillips’s story about his son being left behind, remembering my own story of being left at the soccer fields after my game when I was seven.

But then he said: “Life is challenging. Many people feel overwhelmed, alone, isolated, or exhausted. When things are difficult, we may feel that we have wandered or fallen behind.”2 I straightened in my seat. I knew this talk was for me.

Know Your Father in Heaven

This past summer, I was struggling a lot with loneliness. I had just graduated college, so I no longer had classes or my job on campus. My roommates weren’t always around, my friends were often busy, but more than that, I just felt like I was floating without a tether.

Looking back, I’ve realized how weak my relationship with my Heavenly Father had become. Elder Phillips suggested: “If you are feeling lost, if you have questions or lack wisdom, if you are struggling with your circumstances or wrestling with spiritual dissonance, turn to Him. Pray to Him for comfort, love, answers, and direction. Whatever the need and wherever you are, pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father.”3

Not only is He there to answer our questions and grant us blessings, He is also there to listen. He is the ultimate shoulder to lean on, and His love can transcend even the deepest loneliness.

We can all say what Jesus said: “I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32).

He wants a relationship with us. He loves us. He is there.

Know Who Jesus Christ Is

During that period of loneliness, I wasn’t just not doing what I should have been doing—I wasn’t doing anything at all.

Jesus Christ provided us with the Atonement so we can always have the chance to try again. “As we exercise faith,” Elder Phillips reminds us, “He helps us press forward through hardships.”4 I realized that I needed to start doing the “action” portion of faith. Sitting around on my couch wasn’t helping anyone.

I pulled myself out of my head and started focusing less on the people I couldn’t control and more on what I could: myself. I had the power to change my stagnant situation. I started going on walks of gratitude, I reread my patriarchal blessing for the first time in a while, and I even started exercising the body I’ve been blessed with. And with Christ as my example, I was reminded of my love of serving others.

“Religion is not only about our relationship with God; it is also about our relationship with each other,”5 Elder Phillips declared. If we want to truly know Christ—to emulate Him—we need to be thinking about our relationship with others.

This small desire caught fire within me. I began to be more productive in what I was doing to strengthen my relationships rather than what others were not. I baked zucchini bread for the girls I minister to, I started playing pickleball with people in my ward, and I FaceTimed friends I hadn’t talked to in a while.

Know Who You Are

Elder Phillips reminded me that when I get bouts of loneliness, I need to remind myself to strengthen my relationship with God and reach outward like Christ. But I also need to make sure I know who I am.

He counseled:

“Do not misunderstand or devalue how important you are to your Father in Heaven. You are not an accidental by-product of nature, a cosmic orphan, or a result of matter plus time plus chance. …

“Your life has meaning and purpose. … You are a beloved child of Heavenly Father.”6

Sometimes it’s easy to forget those truths. We treat our friends with kindness, but do we treat ourselves that way? God loves us just as much as He loves anyone else; we should be a friend to all—ourselves included.

If you are frequently gripped with loneliness, take Elder Phillips’ counsel:

“Know your Father in Heaven. …

“Know who Jesus Christ is. …

“Know who you are.”

That lonely grasp will loosen as we become more productive in pursuing the relationships we can control.