Unwanted. Rejected. Second class. Fifth wheel. Unimportant. Not good enough. Lonely. You feel unloved, and it hurts.

You want to be Number One to someone. Perhaps you never felt that from your parents, and you desperately hoped – expected – that you would find that in a spouse. But the right person hasn’t come along. You keep secretly hoping you’ll meet The One before it’s too late, but it’s not looking real good for you right now.

Or you’re married and you’ve discovered that a ring on your finger doesn’t mean you’re Number One to someone in the way you had hoped. You’re disappointed. Why do you feel so lonely and unloved? Wouldn’t your spouse treat you differently if they truly loved you? This Marriage Misery is worse than being single! At least in that case you wouldn’t have your hopes raised – and then squashed into nothingness.

I so badly wanted to be Number One to someone for many years. I was outwardly successful, had friends, and experienced quite a lot of freedom and joy – but I was alone. Some of the people around me were nice enough, but nobody loved me. Not really. Not for me, the whole of me.

Does “God Loves You” even apply to you?

You might say, “That’s just sour grapes. God loves you. And that’s enough.”

You’re right – God loves me. And you. But how does that become enough? How does that go from something you intellectually believe to something your heart knows, rests in, and revels in?

Our human experiences color what love means to us emotionally. If you’ve been unloved, betrayed, exploited, and/or hurt by those who should have loved you – even said they loved you – the notion of love may even seem dangerous and not worth the risk.

Because of all that the idea of experiencing God’s love may seem overly spiritual and irrelevant to where you are now. You’ve heard that God loved you enough to send Jesus to die on the cross for you. And your heart wants to push back: That doesn’t mean anything to me! I feel unloved, and right now I couldn’t care less about eternity or Jesus’ death on a cross. I need love now!

May I suggest a few practical things to do if that’s where you are? These are the steps I took that resulted in me feeling loved regardless of who or what was happening around me. (And it happened long before I got married.) I know you can find the same for yourself.

How to Feel Loved Again

Here are some things you can DO if you are feeling unloved.

1.  Choose to pursue healing.

Healing – as with misery, happiness, and most other things – is a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you feel unloved now your heart absolutely must embark on a healing journey. Whatever lack life has brought you, whatever wounds you’ve accumulated, whatever disappointments or tragedies or losses you’ve experienced, you must make the choice to not remain stuck but to move forward.

That healing will look different for each person. The point is that you must make the choice to find healing regardless of how long or confusing or difficult that path may be.

2.  Learn to feed yourself.

If you’re reading this you’re an adult – with options. And unless you’re stuck in the equivalent of an iron lung, you’re no longer dependent on others to meet your needs. Oh, it’s nice when other people do things that help, but only you can take into your being the things that nourish your soul.

Determine to eat – regularly! And I’m talking about the kind of food your heart needs. That may mean time in nature, art or music, time alone, a retreat or conference, inspiring books or podcasts or websites. Find healthy things that make you feel alive, and do more of that.

3.  Decide to have an open heart – with a gate.

You get to decide who you allow in your life (again, unless you’re in an iron lung). Some people tear you down and add to your feeling of being unloved. Some people lift you up and help you feel courage and hope even if you’re not the only person in their lives. Choose to spend time with the second kind of person.

Does that mean you leave your marriage if your spouse is not that kind of person? Not necessarily. This is about focusing on the choices you DO have regardless of your marital status. It’s about focusing on what you have control of rather than waiting for others – even your spouse – to do what they may or may not do.

But that’s not spiritual.

You may have noticed that up until now I haven’t mentioned any specifically religious or spiritual activities. That’s because too often the admonition “Believe God loves you” sounds empty when you feel unloved. I’m helping you visualize and walk out a path to finding love if you feel stuck in that place.

As a result of my own journey I know with my whole being that God is the One who brings healing, nourishment, inspiration, and love. Sometimes, however, you need help to see how your heart can even come to the place of giving God a chance. That’s what these first three steps have been about. But yes, there’s more.

4.  Keep coming into God’s presence.

God is love. Remain in His presence long enough, and you’ll experience that. You may not feel it the first time you try to be in God’s presence, or the next time, or the time after that. Your part in the equation is to choose to keep coming back – again and again.

That may look like being in God’s great outdoors. It may be time reading Scripture and asking Him to speak to you through it. It may be pouring out your emotions to God in prayer over and over again, and then getting quiet long enough to listen. It may be putting yourself with other believers in a healthy church or small group. It may be studying what God has to say about a specific problem in your life.

I promise you that if you keep coming back enough and choose to have an open heart, God will make Himself known to you and fill you with His love.

You Can Feel Loved!

Finally, I don’t know if you will feel love from a human being in the way you may wish. I do know that if you walk this path you will feel loved. If you are married, this will make it possible for you to experience love between you and your spouse. And if you are not married, it will make you the kind of person that will have a lot to give if God does bring that someone into your life.

So Yes, God loves you! And it’s worth the effort to walk this path in order to feel it.

Your Turn: Are you feeling unloved? What does it feel like to contemplate choosing to pursue healing? Leave a comment below.

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