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Solitude vs. Loneliness



I remember moving to a new area far from close friends and family for a job in advertising. Although I had work friends, we were cursory friends, and I felt isolated and lonely. I did not like being alone. I started going to the gym after work to avoid going home to an empty apartment.


Fast forward two-plus decades later, I find myself craving more and more time alone. Each year I even plan a short three-day trip by myself and schedule solitude into my days.


God wants us to spend time with Him in solitude. Luke 5:16 tells us that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places" to hear from God. We learn and grow when we spend time in quiet, free from distractions. Solitude is where I hear God's voice the clearest and redirect my attention to what matters most. If you have spent time in solitude, I think you would agree that it is the furnace for transformation.


Loneliness, however, is a terrible affliction. God created us for connection, but he also made us for solitude, which is very different from loneliness. I might go so far as to say solitude is the antidote for loneliness as it brings forth truths that help us to evolve and move toward community. Plus, as Christians, we are never alone, but we don't know that unless we practice solitude.


I agree with German Theologian Paul Tillich's words, "Solitude is the glory of being alone. Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone."


How do you spend your time alone? Do you find it fulfilling?

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