Eating Alone Doesn't Have to be Lonely
Amidst the hustle of today’s constantly moving culture, eating alone has become controversial. Some see mealtimes as extra hours to get work done. Others may be terrified at the idea of being alone while eating a meal. Many articles even discuss the potential health risks of eating alone, while others say it’s a great opportunity to catch up on personal hobbies.
While some of these articles frame eating alone as dangerous to our health, many of them actually conclude that it is loneliness, not being alone, that can cause the most harm.
As a disclaimer, I’d like to point out how important it is to eat with others. Jesus often used eating as a way to form meaningful connections with all sorts of people.
“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’” (Luke 19:5, English Standard Version)
But while Jesus modeled the value of eating together with all sorts of people, he also showed us the value in spending time alone. According to the way Jesus lived, being alone—and therefore eating alone—doesn’t have to be lonely.
Resting as we eat
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31, ESV)
Jesus commands us to rest, and mealtimes are a great opportunity to take a break. Rather than seeing a meal as an “extra hour to get work done!” it can also be beneficial to see it as a mental and physical step away from what keeps us busy.
Praying as we eat
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23, ESV)
Being alone gives you the chance to not only talk to God, but to listen to Him as well. Away from the noise of the everyday, the quietness of a solitary mealtime can help you learn how to talk to God better.
Engaging with God’s word as we eat
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, ‘It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”...Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:1-4,11, ESV)
After getting baptized, Jesus spent time alone in the wilderness, where he remembered God’s word while being tempted. After this, Jesus begins his ministry.
Though Jesus was fasting here, we can apply the way He models thinking of God’s word during moments of solitude to our mealtimes. Eating a meal alone can be a great opportunity to digest God’s word.
Giving thanks as we eat
From the Garden of Eden, to God blessing the Israelites with manna, to Jesus feeding thousands, God makes it clear He understands our desire for food. Our meals are a gift, and therefore being alone while eating may give us the attention to appreciate and savor what we’re eating.
Solitude during meal times can actually be beneficial if we are thoughtful about the opportunities it brings. By being mindful about this time, even our moments of solitude can become a blessing.
It’s possible to be alone and not lonely. Enjoy God’s gift of mealtimes to you, whether you’re with others or alone with Him.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.