I am learning (slowly, painfully, imperfectly) that it is okay to be alone. I truly never thought that I would ever feel peace with the concept of loneliness. I absolutely resent being alone, and will go out of my way to avoid isolation. I feel most secure when I have a solid group of friends, and the support of my family.
And yet, I know I am not alone in having this inner desire to stay connected with others. We flee from loneliness by turning to social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snap Chat were all designed as mechanisms to help our human race feel connected to one another. Now, I’m not saying that social media is a negative aspect of society. We were created for community, and I firmly believe that technology has connected the Church in an incredible way.
HOWEVER, our desire to reject lonely seasons stems from an innate sinful desire to find worth and validation in anyone but God Himself. It’s the doubt that God alone can satisfy man. It’s a contributor to the idol of distraction. How often do we, in our brokenness, run to other imperfect humans in order to find validation?
Distraction is a (powerful, ingenious) ploy from the Enemy. He allows us to “feel” rejected when we are alone, and “feel” unwanted, unloved, undeserving when we are in a season of isolation. He wants us to fill our hearts to the brim with other people to distract us from uncovering God’s plan for our life. And so often, it works. But we must be intentional about rejecting these internal fears of being lonely. Jesus was the epitome of perfection, and He recognized the importance of being alone several times throughout His thirty-three years on earth.
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matthew 14:13)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.'” (Matthew 26:36)
The King of Kings needed solitude. He craved time with His Father, without the distractions of this world. He chose isolation. He didn’t need other people to satisfy his fear of loneliness. He did not wait for other people to leave him, he PURSUED time alone and RECEIVED peace in return.
In uncovering the verses about Jesus rejoicing in solitude, I began to realize how restorative loneliness is intended to be. The enemy puts fear in our path to distract us from the truth: that loneliness is inherently good, and ultimately divine. If Jesus chose to pursue loneliness, why am I so deathly afraid of it? If Jesus sought after solitude, it must be intended for good.
Loneliness must be a gift. Why else would the Enemy insight so much fear when we are alone? It’s time to return to communion with a Holy God. Our society may fear isolation, but the Church should welcome it. God often uses lonely times to remind us of our identities in Him, draw us near to Him, and teach us more about ourselves.
In short, I’ve decided to just reject the fear of loneliness in my own life. To embrace every season, no matter how much human validation I receive. There is such freedom in rediscovering loneliness. There is holy reverence when we come to the Father without hearts distracted by our peers’ perceptions. There is peace in every lonely season. There is strength in solitude.