I remember when I was in my early 20s and finally lived on my own for the first time. My apartment was less than 300 square feet, and though I loved the idea of my new independence, there seemed nothing more painful than the hollow echo of solitude. I came home everyday after work and had no one to talk to. Facing myself and the quietness that begins to wear thin, not sharing the daily stuff of life, was depressing.
I needed that period of being alone, but I won’t kid, it was unbearable some days. I would do anything to get out of that tiny apartment, rarely spending time alone. Since then, I have learned to embrace the silence, (two children under 5 years of age does wonders!) yet I vividly remember the dreary melancholy that accompanied living alone.
My solution was to stay busy at break-neck speed, finding a crowd–any crowd. Thus I avoided my inner struggles, and the pain that wedged itself so tight in my heart, which was glaringly obvious when I slowed down. Being a social butterfly was a way I avoided the agony that sometimes comes with solitude.
In the Gospels, we learn that Jesus experienced this loneliness to the max. It reads, “They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘Sit here while I go and pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ ” (Mark 14:32-43)
I cannot imagine how alone the Savior felt with the weight of those awful hours before Him–the hours He asked, if if were possible, to pass Him by.
As I grew closer to Christ, I came to know a solid truth in my heart … I was never alone. Not really. I may not be able to see the wind itself blowing by, but I know the feel of the breeze on my skin. So it is with Him. I cannot see Him with my eyes, but I feel Him in my heart and in my mind. He was always with me. He is always with you.
God can do great things in us when we seek the quiet and the still small voice He uses to whisper to us. It is difficult to hear Him when so much competing noise fills our lives. Listening for Him and embracing the solitude can brake the agony.
Have you experienced uncomfortable times of loneliness? How did you fill the void? Are there times when you embrace solitude?