Someone once said that the word loneliness was created to express the pain of being alone, whereas the word solitude was created to express the glory of being alone. There is a definite difference between loneliness and aloneness and I think we all know the difference. To a degree, solitude is to be sought.
I don’t know if you are like me but I crave solitude, I need solitude. My time of solitude fills me up and makes me a better person, it energizes me. I don’t need a long period of solitude; a day here and there suits me just fine.
Whereas loneliness, has made me feel like I would surely be overcome by its pain. I didn’t want to feel its anguish so I would keep myself so busy to avoid its sting, to avoid feeling it or facing it.
A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the loneliest group in America is college students. Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly.
Proximity to people may have no bearing on whether one feels lonely or not. Women can be lonely in their marriages and inside a house busy with children. We can also experience loneliness in our churches.
Tim Hansel in his book, Through the Wilderness of Loneliness, said, “Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Loneliness is “feeling” alone….no matter how many people are with you. It is the feeling of being disconnected, unplugged, left out, and isolated.”
In Hebrews 4:15-16 it says: “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.”
This Scripture refers to Jesus as our sympathetic and understanding High Priest….He shared in our humanity. (Hebrews 2:14) He was like his brothers in every way (2:17) Jesus knew the same loneliness that you and I may experience.
Admitting loneliness is not a negative confession but an honest, often humbling expression of our human need. We were made for connection.
I don’t know where you are today, what your circumstances are, or what has brought you to this place of loneliness. I know that many of you have experienced loneliness to the degree that I have never walked…and the last thing I want to do is cause you further hurt or sorrow. I don’t make light of the sting of loneliness….and though my journey through loneliness may be different than yours I believe at some point in our lives we all experience it. We know all too well its familiarity. The events that brought us to that place may be diverse, but the pain has the same effect, it wounds and hurts.
I found as I’ve journeyed through my own lengthy alone time, which brought with it the ache of loneliness, was that I had choices. I could choose to face it rather than run from it. I could choose to take advantage of my time alone and embrace it with a godly purpose, as His provision for me. I could use it to spend time with Him, allowing it to become a productive experience with positive results.
Even though loneliness can make you feel like your life will never be whole again, God says He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20)
There are lessons in the loneliness if we look for them. It took me years to get to this place, to realize that my loneliness was an opportunity to remember that I am not alone. My loneliness was an opportunity to experience the loving presence of God that promises never to abandon me but to hold me in the palm of His hands throughout my life.
I want to encourage you to look at times of loneliness not as something to avoid but as a chance to grow closer to God, He promises to be with you and this promise will outlive any circumstance of loneliness that you or I will ever experience in this life and into all eternity.
Often for me it is in the evening when the enemy begins to whisper how alone I am when my husband is away working. He would taunt me with this truth and it was then that I would let down the walls that I had built to protect myself, it was then that I felt vulnerable and let myself cry…but if I was not careful I would then stay there for days, despair and hopelessness ensnaring its way around my heart, tightening its grip. Yet, it is alone, in my place of deepest need, when I can turn to none other, that God meets me.
I’ve been reading lately about Jacob and his journey. What struck me was that a spiritual blessing was imparted as the result of a spiritual battle fought alone. Gen 32:24 “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.”
It is in those darkest times, when our spirits are lonely and our souls downhearted, when we are wrestling within ourselves and wrestling with God that we must lean into the everlasting love that God promises us.
Not too long ago I went to see my prayer counselor because I knew that my husband was soon leaving for his yearly time away, when work took him away for two months or more. I knew that the potential was there once again for loneliness to overwhelm me. So we began to pray through my abandonment issues with healing prayers. Because of my history I had experienced abandonment throughout my childhood and even in my adult years. This is one place where the enemy got a strong foothold and lies were established in my mind.
Under abandonment was a whole host of characteristics and ungodly beliefs I often embraced or held onto. I knew it was time to let them go…loneliness, neglect, rejection, self-pity, powerlessness to name a few. I knew that I held onto them like a covering, allowing them to define me. It was time to confess them and repent, and allow God to heal them.
Through healing prayer I chose to forgive and release those who had influenced me, as well as forgiving myself for entering into and embracing these lies. In prayer we broke these powers from my life and from the lives of my descendents through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Receiving in their place God’s freedom….The Holy Spirit placed within my spirit a sense of belonging, of adoption.
And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”- Galatians 4:6
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.- Romans 8:16
I am His….I am His daughter, His child, His beloved.
Today may our Lord begin to heal those lonely places that bring you pain. I pray for those who are struggling or in a painful place that you will know the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. No matter what is going on in your life, may you remember that it will never be bigger than your God!
God can heal a broken heart, but He has to have all the pieces. ~Author Unknown