“As Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift–as God’s gift–so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God.”
~ Henri Nouwen ~
From the archive June 2007.
What a hoot for this week’s quote prompt to be on loneliness and solitude. My first reaction is, “What is that?” As I type, my four youngest sons and five grandchildren are playing, loudly, in the next room. (My daughter is visiting for a week.) I just asked my 15-year-old (very loudly in order to be heard) “Whose idea was it to have all these kids? Oh yeah, mine.” But you know what? I LOVE IT! Every loud minute of it. I stopped to take a photo to give you a visual.
Kidding aside, we certainly can feel deep loneliness in the mist of many people. Loneliness and being alone are not synonymous. Loneliness is being alone and experiencing deep emptiness.
I have been very lonely, desperately seeking a remedy for the ache of loneliness to end, during several different times of my life. I have been so lonely I actually thought death would be better. But even if we are rejected and abandoned by family, friends or even a spouse we know that our Heavenly Father will never leave us (Heb. 13:5).
The only hope of a cure for loneliness is in Christ. Before we can create an intimate relationship with others, we must find our wholeness in God.
“For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete”
The Bible gives lots of examples of people called to be alone for a time. Abraham was called from his home; Moses spent forty days alone; David was a shepherd; Jesus began his ministry with a call to solitude in the wilderness for forty days. God can use our feelings of loneliness for people. He used the King of Persia’s loneliness to place Esther on the throne. He used Ruth’s loneliness to find Boaz. Loneliness can also lead to sin as in Sarah’s actions to find a cure in another’s child. God designed us with a God-shaped hole in our hearts–not to need other people but to need Him–in order to be whole.
We are forced by feelings of aloneness to seek Him. Our purpose in life is answered in Christ alone. Then we can give love and acceptance to others. As God makes us whole, we become capable of offering to others what the world so desperately desires: true, authentic love. That is why Jesus called the greatest of God’s laws:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Loneliness is not something people choose. It happens to you. Solitude is a choice. We can turn the emptiness and pain of loneliness toward God in choosing solitude, getting alone with God for personal renewal and growth. When we are alone, away from cell phones, children, television, demands, we can turn to God’s presence. Without God the road leads to hell, the place of eternal isolation and the ultimate loneliness.
First thing this morning I had a about five minutes of solitude in God’s Word before coming downstairs to start breakfast for the wonderful loud gang. It was only five minutes, but I needed it. Only solitude with God equips me with the inner fullness I need to be there for others. I am blessed!
PS. Don’t miss the three posts below this one. First, my son taped a lovely surprise to the wall for me yesterday. Secondly, if you know anyone reading the best-selling book The Secret you will want to read the red flag post. And finally, don’t miss the 30-Day Honor Your Husband Challenge.