What I’m Learning about Loneliness and Solitude

lonelyThey’re not the same. But if you’re lonely, you may not believe me. I just ask that you bear with me and read on. I’ve experienced both, but recently have been learning the joys of solitude. You can read some background on some of the more recent chapters of my story here and here. It’s raw, but it’s real. Not much different than your life. Really. We all hurt. We’re lonely. We all do stupid stuff. Loneliness may be the cause of more stupid stuff (and pain for myself and others) in my life than possibly anything else.

Loneliness can be scary but solitude can be satisfying

If you’re feeling lonely, you often feel desperate. At least I do. Even though I bear the “only child” status, I am a people person by nature. When I feel like I don’t have a “person”(friend, companion, lover, etc.) it can be a scary place. It can make you feel like you have no purpose–that somehow, you’re undesirable or unwanted. Believe me, I’ve been there. It’s an everyday battle, but I am learning a few things. So here’s what I’ve done. I’ve embraced solitude. It often looks the same on the outside, but it’s a completely different perspective on the inside. It’s a total shift in mindset. In loneliness I tend to think about what I DON’T have. In solitude I reflect on what I DO have. When I have solitude, I have time. I have time to be, to think, to reflect, to write, to create, to listen, to appreciate the world around me. There’s so much out there to enjoy. And here’s a little secret–most of it came about by someone’s solitude. Take a look at the art in your city, the businesses, the culture…usually if not created completely in solitude, it was conceived that way. Sure, most things worth doing take a team to accomplish, but they are often imagined in solitude. That’s pretty satisfying. Take that class. Learn that instrument. Read that book. Just be. It’s ok and it can be quite satisfying.

Loneliness breeds desperation, but solitude breeds confidence.

Some of the most desperate thoughts and actions come from loneliness. Read the most tragic news and much of what you read can be connected to loneliness in some form. People that are generally happy with themselves and those around them usually don’t intentionally harm other people. What loneliness will do is cause you to do almost anything to attract attention, or will cause you to do anything to maintain the attention of people that generally don’t have your best interest at heart. When you’re lonely you’ll do ANYTHING to be with ANYONE. That’s a dangerous place to be.

Been there. Done that. Have the T-shirt. BUT, when you embrace solitude, you actually have the time to become the type of person that will not only attract the right kind of people, but will enable you to be strong enough to be helpful to anyone else along the way. When you embrace solitude, you embrace who you are and there is the potential to discover an incredible amount of confidence in that.

Loneliness cultivates isolation but solitude cultivates identity.

Out of our need to belong, we can often allow that need to dictate who we are or who we become. I certainly don’t want to minimize the importance of healthy community in our life, but sometimes we can allow community (of any kind) to CREATE identity rather than be FOUND in identity. It’s subtle, but it’s huge. Solitude allow you the time to discover, or rediscover who you really are. What are your interests when you’re all alone? What do you think about? What brings you joy? Focus on those things and see them through. Take the time. Do the work. Don’t anesthetize yourself with hours of social media browsing constantly comparing the best of other’s lives with the worst of yours. Put the smartphone down and do the work. It’ll change your perspective immensely. You may just rediscover who you really are. And there’s a lot of joy to be found in that.

Where I find my identity

If you’re reading this, chances are, you are a person of faith, as my blog largely focuses on matters of faith, art and culture. However, if somehow you’ve stumbled on this, then allow me a brief moment to share the source of my being. I am a Christ follower, and as such, I find my identity in being a child of God, which Jesus made possible for me by faith in his death (payment for my sinfulness) and his rising again (power over sin and death). I often hear his voice through the Scriptures and even in my heart (which may sound crazy, I do understand that, but is nonetheless very real and gives me an incredible knowing deep in my spirit which cannot be described). I will admit that this “advantage” may seem to give me an upper hand of sorts, in that in reality, I’m actually never alone. I also find great comfort in that. The good news for you, is that this same relationship can be yours as well. Follow the link below to see this relationship explained from the Scriptures. Also, enjoy the links below that may help you in your loneliness. They’ve helped me and I trust they can help you as well.



3 Responses to What I’m Learning about Loneliness and Solitude

  1. Warren Holmes says:

    Very insightful and necessary for my season, Jason. For me, if I do not figure out why I did what I did, I am more likely to repeat it. Powerful truths, man of God.

  2. Ellen Brady says:

    If you ever come to that place of asking “why”, well this blog is one of the reasons! Very encouraging, Jason! As a Pastors wife, I struggled for many years with loneliness, but God, in His great love, taught me this solitude that you speak of! I’m Grateful!! Thank you for sharing !! Ellen

  3. solarpoint says:

    Hey Jason I’m glad you have been able to channel your pain in a spiritually productive way. So hard to do…

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