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?