“Ask a Priest: How Can I Feel God’s Love More and Get Over Loneliness?”

Q: So I have a great family and a pure and wonderful boyfriend and a loyal best friend and a great dog. You might think that I am never lonely. But for some reason, even though I am always finding ways to draw closer to God (for example, the rosary, service projects, praying often) I still manage to have a deep pit of loneliness and unfulfillment. I often try to stuff it with cat videos on YouTube (you have to admit those are funny) and spending as much time with family and friends as I can. The pit is, regardless, never full and I feel it most whenever I am alone and missing my family and friends. I have come to a conclusion that this deep pit is not only loneliness and unfulfillment but also the need to feel unconditional love. I have all these fabulous people who love me, but people die. Or they have their own lives to live. They’re not always there, present in my life. Even though I know God is, I struggle to feel his presence. So maybe where I’m going with this is how can I always manage to find God’s unconditional love and fulfillment even when I feel extremely lonely and disconnected? Thank you. – K.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You are feeling what everyone feels deep down — a need for unconditional love. I would dare say a perfect love.

The only one who can give us this kind of love is God. Human beings will always come up short. With good reason St. Augustine wrote of God in his Confessions: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

The difference between you and most other people is that you at least recognize this phenomenon that you are experiencing, and you know what it is you are seeking.

The good news is that you don’t need to “find” God’s unconditional love — he already gives it to you! More accurate would be to ask how you can become aware of his unconditional love.

The short answer is: lots of prayer, lots of acts of charity. In prayer you will grow closer to God (or rather, you will be more aware of his presence in your life). In acts of charity you will give your heart a chance to grow. You will love more as Jesus loved.

It is also good to remember that as we grow spiritually, our awareness and experience of God’s love also grows.

But even the saints never experienced the complete fulfillment that you find yourself yearning for here on earth. That only comes when we get to the Father’s house in heaven. For now, we remain pilgrims. The very longing that you feel can be a powerful prayer, a powerful motivation to keep seeking “first the kingdom [of God]” (Matthew 6:33) instead of getting overly entangled in earthly things.

What is the upshot of all this? Perhaps Our Lord is asking you to dedicate more of yourself to him … maybe through a vocation. A desire for greater union with God can be sign that he is calling you to dedicate yourself to him through a life of consecration.

It might be worth taking to prayer. Don’t worry if the idea scares you. Just trust in Jesus and where he might be leading you.

To help you go deeper in the spiritual life, consider some of the RC Spirituality resources, such as the Retreat Guides and the RC Daily Meditations.

Another helpful resource could be “The Better Part.”

I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.

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