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."