Loneliness, Isolation, and Solitude… Oh My!

“But the devil sees to it that we seldom get alone.” A.W. Tozer

What? I thought the devil wanted us to be alone, where we can be vulnerable for attack. We’re supposed to live in community and relationship, right? After all, God himself said, “It’s not good that man should be alone.”

I believe there are two different ways we can be alone: isolation and solitude, and there’s a big difference between the two. Isolation separates or quarantines someone from others. People usually live in isolation when they have an infectious disease, or when they are emotionally detached from others. Isolation implies a deliberate separation for the purpose of avoiding contact with others. 

Solitude, on the other hand, has a different connotation. It also refers to a separation from others, but just the sound of it is more peaceful, isn’t it? A place of solitude can refer to a wilderness or uninhabited area. Often times we talk about getting a moment of solitude, a moment to escape some of the chaos of life and just breathe. Solitude implies a deliberate separation for the purpose of rest, reflection, and even connection with God. I believe this is what the Bible is talking about when it says Jesus went to be alone, when it says we should pray alone, and when God invites His people to go away to desolate places with Him.

The point Tozer was making with his statement that the devil doesn’t want to let us get alone, is that we need moments of solitude in order to get connected with God and become aware of the heavenly realm. When we are so distracted by the things of this world, even the busyness of keeping up with all our relationships, we often don’t seek after the “more”. He is saying that sometimes we need to be stripped of everything to recognize what we were really created for.

These days with social media, I believe the devil is stealthily keeping us from solitude, while we are living more and more isolated from others. Our solitude gets so easily interrupted by a ding or a “quick check” that turns into a 30 minute scroll. Everyone is trying to keep up with social events and exciting facades but internally people are struggling more than ever with feeling misunderstood, alone, and insecure. There’s relationship with no depth. We walk around with walls around our hearts to keep people out. We are surrounded by so many things to live for while being far removed from the One we were created for. 

The devil wants us to live in isolation without solitude. He wants us to be disconnected from others, without the fruit of moments of solitude. Our Father wants to invite us into moments of solitude without isolating us from community and relationship. 

I’ve allowed my recent season of solitude to stir in me a longing, an aching for communion with the only one who can fill loneliness. The word “communion” means “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level.” Isn’t it beautiful that scripture invites us into this kind of relationship with God? A sharing of secrets and intimate thoughts? 

So don’t run away if God is inviting you into a place of solitude. There may be pangs of loneliness, but allow it to drive you to communion. Allow Him to fill the gaps that remain. Allow Him to show you that His company is enough, that He’s enough. Allow Him to break down the walls of isolation in your heart so that you can really let Him in, and, as a result, let people in. 

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