Solitude, Isolation? How Can I Tell The Difference?

I know these days so many of us are spending more time at home, more time alone.

For introverts or wounded hearts not having to turn down invitations can seem like a gift.

But it’s easy to slide from solitude (healthy, restorative alone time) into isolation (unhealthy, depleting separation). So I ask myself a few questions to help sort it out.

If you are feeling increasingly alone and forgotten, full of despair and abandoned, you might want to use this checklist too.

Even in this era of social (physical) distancing a heart can and absolutely should seek out community.

It’s what we were made for.

I’ve always loved my alone time.

As an introvert (who can, if pressed pretend not to be!) my energy is restored when I interact with one or two folks or no one at all.  A dream afternoon is writing while listening to nothing louder than the wind chimes outside my door.

I treasure solitude.

Since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, I find I need even more alone time than before.

That quiet place is where I do my most effective grief work, undisturbed by interruptions and distractions.

But I need to be careful that solitude doesn’t shift into isolation. 

Read the rest here: Solitude or Isolation? Which is it?

The Sound of Silence

Busy, busy, busy and noisy, noisy, noisy.

Every day is full of activity and every minute full of sounds-television, radio, Itunes or Pandora.

holy-solitude

 

 

I am, at the same time, hyper-connected and dis-connected. My mind is often full but my heart can feel empty. 

 

 

If I can move fast enough or create sufficient distraction, then maybe I can ignore the harder questions, the deeper thoughts, the uncomfortable feelings that I would rather not explore.

Being in one’s own company alone with God is challenging.  Without the noise of outside distraction I am forced to face my fears and hidden darkness.  And in the quiet I find that the easy answers leave me empty and unsatisfied.  I must listen carefully for the still, small Voice that whispers comfort.

If I want to hear from God I need to embrace solitude and make space to hear.

 

 

Embracing Solitude, Making Space to Hear

We strive so hard to fill our days–our feet barely hit the floor and we are rushing to get ready, to get in the car, to go somewhere, do something.

And should there be the rare morning when our schedule doesn’t demand our attention, we sleep it away and then turn on our noise machines to provide a soundtrack for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in between.

One statistic notes: “our homes have more television sets than people. And those television sets are turned on for more than a third of the day—eight hours, 14 minutes.”  (USA Today)

We are afraid to be alone.

Afraid to listen to my own heartbeat and thoughts and to consider my own questions.  So I fill the space with distractions and push away the necessity of facing them.

But grief will not be ignored.

It will not allow me to pull the covers over my mind and hide beneath them.  I cannot turn the music or television up loud enough to drown out the rhythm of sorrow keeping time in my head.

I am re-reading “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis.

It comforts me that this man who was an intellectual giant, a creative genius, and a thoughtful and capable apologist for the Gospel, struggled just like me when faced with the sorrow, pain, loss and questions of grief.

And, contrary to what I wish were true there are not answers available for every question.

Quoting Bible verses does not soothe every frayed nerve.

There are not rock-solid assurances that sweep away every doubt.

Being in one’s own company alone with God is challenging.  

Without the noise of outside distraction I am forced to face my fears and hidden darkness.  

with you always

 

And in the quiet I find that the easy answers leave me empty and unsatisfied.  I must listen carefully for the still, small Voice that whispers comfort.

In the end, it is to Jesus Himself that I must cling.