Friday, December 30, 2005

Loneliness And Solitude

Although I miss my mum very much, I actually quite enjoy being alone at home. I was discussing solitude and loneliness with a friend today. We discussed that while there is some similarity between solitude and loneliness, and it is true that the two at times do converge, but the experiences are very different.

The word alone occurs frequently in the Bible, but only in very few cases can it be equated with loneliness. Jesus said, "You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me" (Jn. 16:32). Loneliness is the result of the absence of personal intimacy or meaningful activity. Solitude is not being in the company of others.

The followings are some differences between loneliness and solitude:
  • Loneliness is a negative experience, while solitude is often positive and renewing.
  • Loneliness brings a feeling of desolation and depression that can be destructive. Solitude can generate a sense of solitariness that is both creative and motivating.
  • Loneliness is involuntary, unwanted. Solitude is voluntary and deliberately chosen.

God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18). But there are times when the heart craves solitude. Following His claim that isolation was not good for Adam, God created "a helper suitable for him." We were created social beings, capable of loving and having relationships with both God and our fellow men and women. Our full creative purpose can never be realized by itself, only in association with other people.

Being alone involves only physical separation, but being lonely includes both spiritual and psychological isolation. It produces a solitude of heart, the feeling of being cut off from others whom we should like to have as friends. A certain degree of solitude--being alone with one's thoughts--is a normal state. It is essential to the cultivation of the inner life. We all experience times when it becomes essential to have time alone. Without this time, the spiritual life will lack depth and freshness. In such a period of solitude we will find a welcome alternative to the race of busy life.

We need to be alone to discover and confront our real selves. A time of solitude can often lead to invaluable reflection, self-analysis and a fresh outlook on life. That's why I enjoy posting on blog so much, as it provides an opporunity for me to slow down, reflect and have solitude.

What about you?

18 comments:

An Ordinary Christian said...

Wnderful post. Thanks for defining the difference between time alone and loneliness. I go nuts without time alone. Yet I find myself in the company of others a lot. I dream and think of time alone that I want to spend in the years ahead, but I think that it will be important for me also to stay connected with others as well. I can not spend too much time with my mother and extended relatives, or I really feel the need for time away, because they act like I am someone that I am not, and I feel suffocated around them after a short while. Time alone - yes!

Godwyn Lim said...

Hi Sister in Christ,

Amen! Jesus is always with us for HE never will He forsake us.

We are never alone, at times even in a big crowd, we can feel lonely but the Lord is always with us!

Have a Blessed year! Can I link your blog to mine? I keep a mailing list, can I add you in my list? My email is godwyn.lim@gmail.com

May the Lord Bless you & Keep You!

Bhedr said...

Hey Kitty,

I am glad you find this in solitude and I gues the one that is able to bear it let them do so. My brother is alone as well and he has grown in a communion rich with God in this lonliness. He himself was born in Hong Kong and is a pianist well known now in Korean Churches. His label is from Korea. His heart though is with Israel mostly now and the Jew.

We both grew up in Hong Kong as our parents were missionaries with ABWE. Did you ever know any of the ABWE missionaries. Do you by any chance know Teddy Chang whom my Uncle Carson fremont led to Christ and my father discipled as He was the pastor of Sunshine Baptist Church. Ha Muk See was my Dad's name in Cantonese as that is the way I remember it sounded.

WE lived in Sha-tin in the first 4 years I lived and then went on furlough came back and lived in Mei Foo Sun Chuen in the broadway apartments.

Please visit my brothers site at Bradlee.com or click on my brothers link on my blog.

Grace to you sister

Brian

Corry said...

Great post and well defined.
Loneliness also prevents us from seeing the blessings that are given.
With God we are never alone and always in the best company. Maybe loneliness is a choice as well? God is always there, all we have to do is choose to let Him in.
Just a thought:-)

God's Grace.

Kitty Cheng said...

Hey Andrea, yes I agree that it's important to find a balance between having time alone, and spending time connecting with others.

Kitty Cheng said...

Hey Godwin, it will be a privilege to be linked to your blog! Please do add me in your mailing list.

God Bless you! Happy New Year to you too.

Kitty Cheng said...

Hey Brian, like your brother, I find that solitude can truly help us to grow closer to God.

So what does ABWE stand for? Wow! Ha Muk See meaning Reverend Ha is your dad? So is Teddy Chang the pastor of Sunshine Baptist Church in Melbourne now?

You know I used to study in Shatin for my secondary school before coming to Australia too, and my brother used to live in Mei Foo Sun Chuen for a while too =) What a coindient!

It's so nice to 'meet' you in blogosphere Brian! Let's keep in touch. Are you ministering in the States now?

Blessings to you!

In Him,
Kitty

Kitty Cheng said...

Thanks Corry. Yes God is our best company. And I pray that I choose to spend time with Him and let Him in all the time.

Bhedr said...

Hey Kitty,

Teddy is now the president of one of the seminaries out there.

Association Of Baptists for World Evangelism(ABWE)

uncle Harry Ambacher wrote a book about much of this in Under The Shadow Of The Dragon.

Good to meet you

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I love solitude. Apparently that runs in my family.

God Bless

Matthew

Mark D said...

Good post Kitty!

I lived alone during the first year of Bible school. It was wonderful because it kept me focused on what I was learning and gave me time to reflect on many, many things. I was also happy to have the chance to pray outloud late at night or early in the morning without being concerned that I'd bother someone. You did a great job of comparing loneliness and solitude. I like to write on my blog for the same reason.

Kc said...

More great reflections from the Kitty Korner. ;-)

I pray that God will continue to bless you and your efforts in the year to come. Our prayers continue for Rachel as well.

You're such a blessing!

Kitty Cheng said...

Nice to meet you too Brian.

Matthew, it's good to spend time in solitude. Better still, it runs in your family. God Bless you.

Kc, as I type, Rachel is with me (we just welcomed 2006 together). Rachel said thanks for all your prayers. She is really grateful to become part of the family of God. Praise God for that =)

Happy New Year everyone! You're all blessings to me and Rachel. Thanks so much. Please keep praying for us.

Godwyn Lim said...

"... I am come that they might have life, & life that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Have a good wekk ahead with Jesus's love!

Godwyn Lim said...

"... I am come that they might have life, & life that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Have a good year ahead with Jesus's love! Amen!

Kitty Cheng said...

Thanks Godwyn! Blessings to you!

Kel said...

Kitty, I never thought of blogging as a solitary activity, cos I think of it as a 'place' where so many soulmates catch up

but reflecting on what you have written, I realise what you say is one reason why I also like to blog

PS: your writing style is developing well on your blog :)

Kitty Cheng said...

Hi Kel, come to think of it, blogging is truly a 'place' where many soulmates catch up.

Thanks for your kind words. I find that the more I write the more I enjoy writing :)