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Jul 14, 2012

The Gift of Aloneness

I've spent most of my life alone. I never had many friends and the friendships that I had never seemed to last. Loneliness was a constant struggle that never seemed to go away for very long. Even as a believer actively involved in a local church, loneliness always seemed to be right there beside me. Then, as God began to set me free and I no longer participated in all of the religious activities, my feelings of loneliness increased.

A few months ago, in a conversation with Darin Hufford about loneliness, he said that loneliness is a gift. Well, that was certainly a new concept for me and, since I wasn't sure about it, I decided to just let it sit and wait to see what God would do with it. In a recent podcast, Darin also said, "I've spent most of my life all alone inside of myself." Then, as he elaborated on that statement, my heart was saying, "Yes! Yes! Yes! I understand.!

I've spent many hours all alone with myself, thinking and processing or, as Mary did, "pondering those things in my heart." Through that processing, I discovered that loneliness is indeed a gift but only because it leads to aloneness. However, that journey is difficult because the only road to aloneness leads through loneliness. There's no way to by-pass it.

For most of us, loneliness is a dark place filled with many tears. It's a place of sorrow that's filled with much frustration and self-pity. It was a difficult place for me but I've found that in order to connect more deeply with my heart and with the real ME, I've had to travel through the dark place of loneliness. I think many believers confuse emotions with the heart but they are different. I think of the heart as a deep place where the real ME resides and it's only in aloneness that I've been able to connect with the real ME.

While in that place of loneliness, I would struggle to find ways to talk to somebody, ANYBODY!!!! In my loneliness, I felt like I was dying so I tried church and all of the church activities. I tried small groups. I tried prayer meetings and Bible studies but nothing eased the loneliness that I was feeling. When I would spend time with people, even when we were speaking about "spiritual things," I left feeling empty and dissatisfied. It was like a drug that satisfied for the moment but, when the affects of "fellowship" wore off, the loneliness returned.

I finally decided that loneliness would always be with me so I gave up trying to fight it and instead decided to accept that it was just a way of life for me. Making that decision was a major turning point because after that, things began to change. I discovered that too much activity and interaction had been a distraction that hindered me from connecting with my heart in a real way. As I learned to accept my alone times, I discovered that I actually enjoyed them and that that it's okay to be alone and enjoy those times. So, now I've given myself the freedom to do the things I enjoy doing, even if I have to do them alone.

I work in a public high school and the kids are always asking me what kind of music I listen to. I tell them that I don't like music so I don't listen to any. Since they don't believe me, they then ask me, "What do you listen to in the car?" and I tell them that I don't listen to anything. Shocked, they then ask, "What do you do?" My answer is, "I think." By their silent response, I can tell that they can't comprehend of such a thing.

Thinking for me has become a way of life and I enjoy connecting with the real ME in that secret place of my heart. I'm learning more and more about myself and who I really am but that has only taken place because I've learned to accept and live in aloneness. Now, I no longer despise my time of loneliness. I accepted it as a gift when I discovered that it was the only path to the secret place of aloneness which for me has become a place of contentment for it is there that I meet with God and the real ME.

Hosea said it well when he described that place of privacy and intimacy with God.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of Egypt."

by Aida Calder

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  1. Gravatar

    Hi Aida, I enjoyed reading your thoughts about loneliness being a gift as this has part of my journey also. However I do differ in at least one aspect. I don't usually think too much but do listen to a lot of music :)

  2. Gravatar

    Hi Ian, I think about you often so it’s great to hear from you. Of course, you’re wrong about the music. LOL Seriously though, I remember how you’ve shared your experience of loneliness so I know that you know that even though it is difficult, there can be great benefit.

  3. Gravatar

    Thank you so much for this Aida! I've always struggled with being lonely and I'm currently in Cambodia surrounded by people and backpackers and I still feel unbelievably alone. I've been ignoring myself and my problems by filling the void with people and substances but I've decided recently that I have to deal. Thanks again and I love your podcasts with Darin.

  4. Gravatar

    Tim, loneliness is a struggle even when others are around because loneliness issues from the heart and has nothing to do with who’s around us. When we feel like we don’t have a heart connection with others, we're lonely. I think as we get more comfortable with ourselves, we feel less lonely so I’m glad you’ve decided to make some changes. The path to aloneness is a journey but I believe we can be alone and still be contented. I’m glad you enjoyed the podcasts. Thank you.

  5. Gravatar

    Hi Tim, part of why we are lonely is that we feel alone in our problems. As if no one else is struggling in the way we are with something. Besides dealing with your issues, try asking those you are with about their life struggles. You can cover a lot of ground in connecting to others quickly by listening with your heart to their heart, drawing out the story of their struggles and feelings about it, and responding with support, concern and sharing about your journey. Hiking thru a foreign country is a great metaphor for this. I've found hiking a great living parable of the nature of what we do in life. You can draw many parallels between peoples' life adventures and the adventure you are on together. Take courage and dare to journey into love.

  6. Gravatar

    If you want long-term friendships, Aida, you cannot correct your "friends" but be above correction yourself,or make it clear to your "friends" that you get nothing from the friendship and find them just a burden in your busy schedule, or talk about your "friends" behind their back and pass on to them the conclusions you and the others agreed on! I wonder how long it will take you to delete this comment from one of the victims of your temporary "friendships"!?

  7. Gravatar

    Hi Jenny, If your comments above reflect your general attitude to life i.e; entitlement and superiority, I would delete you too. Are you really so cut up? You sound like a mean teenager. You and Aida didn't necessarily hit it off together, oh well...move on, grow up and make new friends. You'll be okay.

  8. Gravatar
    Janet Ross

    Honestly, I thought my lack of 'social craving' was a character flaw...people treat it that way so I agreed. I hated my loneliness but also hated the stereo-typical lives filled w/friends where they simply don't understand to back up & give you space. To have friends seemed to mean people were always clamoring for my time & to have time meant I could have no friends. I've lived both & hated both. Strangely (or not so) as Papa makes me more and more whole - He has not inspired me to a social life at all. It wasn't a problem He needed to fix but as you stated a journey where I have discovered the secret places & times where it is ME & HIM & I love it. Now, I just look forward to the opportunities to share the awesome tools in my chest from PAPA to encourage others to truly LIVE.

  9. Gravatar

    I've been a Christian for 32 years & have never understood it when clergy continues to say that we need unity & fellowship & accountability. I personally don't need any of that. I don't think Paul needed it in jail or John needed in on the Isle of Patmos. We are Complete in Him. The Holy Spirit leads us into All Truth & we don't need any man to teach us.

  10. Gravatar
    David Joseph Brncik

    I really enjoyed this article. I think that the Kingdom of God is within our own hearts and we should let the Heaven in side us permeate the atmosphere wherever we are. But I think having that alone time is actually very special especially when your spending with a heart open to his voice. Anyway loved the Article.

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