“Turn your loneliness into solitude, and your solitude into prayer.”- Elisabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness
“Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.”- Paul Tillich
In Chapter 7 (“The Treasures of Solitude”) of Transforming Loneliness, Ruth Graham talks about how we want to avoid that descent into a dark place. And how we hate the feeling that we fail to possess the power to stop it.
But, this marks the spot where the rubber meets the road. When events beyond our control crash into our lives, they upend our hopes and expectations for connection and closeness. And there we sit. Both alone and lonely.
However, Ruth stresses, people often equate loneliness and solitude. In truth, they are quite different. As Hara Estroff Marano once wrote in Psychology Today:
“There’s a world of difference between loneliness and solitude, though the two terms are often used interchangeably. . . . But all resemblance ends at the surface. . . . Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. . . . Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. . . . Solitude is a time for reflection, inner searching, or growth or enjoyment of some kind.”
In addition, Ms. Graham states, solitude tends to feel peaceful and seems to surface from a rich inner life. Also, it refills, renews, and refreshes us. And while we choose solitude, loneliness comes over us without our asking.
Finally, Ms. Graham adds these thoughts:
“I like to think of solitude as making room in our souls for God by shutting down all the noise of the demands of our lives and opening ourselves up to His influence on our thoughts, feelings, and ideas that have been living on the surface for too long. . . . The reality is that if we devote ourselves intentionally to solitude with God, we can actually decrease our loneliness.”
Today’s question: What Bible verses help turn your solitude into prayer? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Lonely times are preparatory times”