Helping people with problems is primarily what counseling is about. One of the advantages of counseling from a biblical perspective is in knowing that there are almost always positive aspects to whatever problem we face. Case in point: the problem of loneliness. Having battled loneliness personally, I know firsthand how insidiously loneliness can drain hope and light out of the landscape of the human mind and heart.
That is why I was grateful to read a blog posted this week titled, Solitude by Cristian Mihai. Though writing from a purely secular view, I was refreshed by his reminder that there is much beauty to be enjoyed when we are on our own. Here are some of his observations regarding solitude:
“As a kid, life is often simple. I played with my toys, making up stories. I read books, tried to learn so many different things that I could talk to an adult as equals. It was fun, actually. But I also spent a lot of time alone, in silence. But my mind was never quiet.
Solitude grants you this bizarre freedom, filling your mind with questions and answers and noise and stories. I spent a lot of time building the life I was going to have. I spent more time some place else than my body.”
He went on to say that to work creatively– be it with words, paint, gardening or any other medium- solitude is often an absolute necessity. He is totally right! Here is part of what I wrote back to him:
“Your insights into the necessity of solitude in the creative process really hit the mark. I would have to add that for me, what makes “solitude” most productive and exciting is the interplay of my Creator’s Voice with my own, urging me on throughout the process. The problem of loneliness comes when my focus is so totally inward, that I lose touch with that other Voice. The blessing is in knowing that even there (in my loneliness) His Voice can penetrate even the darkest of darkness.” (Psalm 139:7-12)
To sort out the difference between solitude and loneliness, I checked the Oxford Dictionary Online. What I discovered is that solitude can be very beneficial and should be guarded as something precious. Solitude is defined as:
Loneliness, on the other hand, is not so beneficial in its definition:
The difference? The root of loneliness has to do with a lack of companionship; missing that interpersonal fellowship with others with whom we share interests or friendship. The danger in following the path of loneliness is that as we become increasingly self-focused, the world around us appears darker.
The beauty of the Journey Notes Praise Journaling process is that it helps us embrace God in our solitude as:
- We take our focus off of ourselves by logging our Praises to Him as well as our Prayer Concerns
- We look to our Creator for His perspective in the Scriptures
- We respond in faith as we trust and honor Him with our lives
Jesus encouraged His disciples to enter into precious solitude with Him in Matthew 11:28-29,
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
No matter what the season, the good news is that God has provided a means of blessing through fellowship with Him. If loneliness has overtaken you, be encouraged that if you know Jesus, YOU ARE NEVER TRULY ALONE! The beauty of solitude invested in Christ Jesus is, that your relationship with Him will deepen as God’s Spirit and Word minister to your mind and heart. So get going! Abandon the loneliness of “self” and indeed find rest for your soul.
You have searched me, Lord,
and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
You, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and You lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You. (Psalm 139:1-12)
All to His Glory!