Loneliness or Solitude
With this virus, many people may be alone. From the outside, solitude and loneliness look a lot alike. Both are characterized by solitariness. But all resemblance ends at the surface.
Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. One feels that something is missing. Loneliness is imposed on you by others.
Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. We Christians know we are never alone. Solitude is something you choose.
What is Christian Solitude?
Our lives are defined by what we value most and love the most. We human beings are driven by what we want. We think we know what we love and value the most, but what truly drives us is often a deep mystery. Maybe we don't know ourselves quite as deeply and fully as we think. Our spiritual habits can help us here.
Spiritual habits are rhythms and disciplines aimed at those deeper desires. One of those disciplines is solitude. Solitude is gathering ourselves in the presence of God for the purpose of seeing ourselves and our lives from God's perspective. It is the normal rhythm of quietly listening to the voice of God.
A good place to start to look at Christian solitude is Psalm 62 written by David.
" For God alone my soul waits in silence"
Psalm 62 :1
God is doing wonderful things all around us that we usually do not stop and see. Our solitude is about God, not about us. Solitude saves us from our own perspective so we see a wider view.
Let's break David's first verse down.
"For God alone"
Solitude is not me time or alone time. Solitude is primarily about God. Our lives are centered more on God than ourselves. Solitude is important because we are prone to do just the opposite. We impulsively make our lives about ourselves, which is the beginning of unhappiness. Solitude gives us a view that is not our own.
" My soul waits"
I know, no one wants to wait.
Waiting is difficult. Instead we reach for anything within our reach, our phones mostly.
We just want anything to take our minds from waiting. But as Christians we must discipline ourselves to wait on God.
Solitude is the intentional and regular habit of waiting.
Waiting is the part of solitude that exposes our vulnerabilities.
" in Silence"
Silence is terrifying. We do anything to avoid it. Even in a grocery store there is a soundtrack playing. Play something--anything! Just don't leave us in silence.
But silence in solitude is not being left alone---it is listening.
Solitude is moving from being the primary actor in our prayers to receiving what God has for us. To listen in solitude is to let the word of God act on us. We are quietly letting the truth press into us.
Solitude settles us into God's universe not ours. It provides a true perspective of ourselves and God.
"Be Still and know that I am God."
We can't nurture the truth of God's lordship in our lives while in a hurry. In a hurry we depend more on our human impulses and instincts which make us lord of our lives.
This leads to spiritual disaster.
In this time of isolation and social distancing. Choose solitude.
Get closer to God.
Grow my brothers and sisters!