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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Bad Aloneness and Good Aloneness

We all need healthy human connection. Living without - bad aloneness. And we all need solitude - good aloneness.

Bad Aloneness

God said, "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:16). God made us for connection, for bonding, for communion with other human beings. When we experience this "bad" loneliness, symptoms result such as inner tension, depression, rigidity, addictions, and irritability.

Research has demonstrated that a lack of connection is more dangerous to your health than smoking and high blood pressure.

We all need emotional openness and appropriate physical touch with other human beings – whether we are single or married. The deepest desire of every heart, as Augustine said, is to see and to be seen. This "bad" aloneness is intended by God to move us towards change.

What do we do in this case?

The worst loneliness is living disconnected from yourself. The first step away from bad aloneness and toward good aloneness is to be aware and admit your own loneliness, then you can do something about it.

I have learned that nobody is responsible for my life and happiness but me. One of God's great gifts to human beings is the gift of choice.

I have the choice to take initiative or not. There are times in my life when I have chosen to spend a lot of time with people, and seasons that have called for more solitude. Although every human being feels the ache of human aloneness from time to time, I have felt in particular the loneliness of leadership and the loneliness of being a pastor's spouse. They are terribly lonely at times. When I become aware of my loneliness during those seasons, I make deliberate choices to take care of my needs and to move towards life-giving people.

Good Aloneness

Paul Tillich distinguishes between the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone and, the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.

Good aloneness is actually the true ground for communion with others. How can I be with you if I am not with myself? How can I give you myself if I don't know who I am?

I know when I am in a "good aloneness" when I sense God's peace, feel unhurried, or am still before the Lord. Everything gets quiet so I can hear. Everything gets clear so I can see.

No person can hope to be mature without this "good aloneness." And unless we receive our own being as a gift, we cannot possibly receive the gift of others.

So don't be afraid to embrace the gift of "good aloneness."

God is waiting for you there (Ps. 37:7).

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