Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The liberation of loneliness

I am selfish, I am stubborn and subsequently single.  I am so set in my own ways and obsessed with my independence that I tend to push people away.  Unsurprisingly I am not the only person I know for whom this is the case.  At least three close friends of mine seem to be poetically painted within this same frame of mind, but why?  Is it simply that we’ve grown thick skins after wounds of the past?  Or is there something else, a deeper satisfaction in being alone?

There is something liberating about loneliness.  I myself seem to feel accomplished for experiencing something alone, deeply content that I am able to contain things within the privacy of myself; thoughts and feelings that are mine and mine alone, things that no-one will ever know.  I am in love with the ability to reflect, to take in the external and squeeze it between the hands of contemplation so that every last drop of opportunity has been used up.

I like to look at my body.  Not in a creepy bout of vanity but as a point of observation.  I like to feel that I am a being, to recognise that I am myself.  As much as interaction and emotions can overlap between one person and another, it is comforting to me to know that the body is a set form, a frame that distinguishes the self from the external.  However, this shape is almost like a sieve.  We may have a little control over what we do and do not let in from the external, but inevitably there are holes and the external will get in.  We are not free from the influence of emotion.  I often wish I could block these holes, as what seeps through them is what makes or breaks us.


  1. I like the stillness and space for self-reflection that comes with being alone. I feel as if when socialising with other people, you're kinda forced to just keep talking for the sake of talking, even if you're not saying much at all.


  2. And without those holes the Holy Spirit would never flow, without those holes the door to Christ could never be open or the love of the Father known.

    Personally I find myself stuck between introversion and extroversion. I long to be with people whom I love and care about, I am often energised by the company of friends - it sustains me and makes me feel alive. Yet I find social niceties infuriating, I hate meeting new people with all of the nonsense that goes with it, often when with people I just want to be quiet, words often don't need to be said or spoken in my opinion to express what one thinks and feels. But I find myself being a creature of solitude, tucked away in my room or walking alone through the countryside with only the glory of God's good creation to bear with me.

    But that brings up another problem with the extroversion/introversion distinction - I am a Christian who has a relationship with the Holy Trinity. No matter where I go I am accompanied and can never ever escape four people - myself, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If extroversion is largely characterised by where one draws comfort and energy - from other people, then how does this relate to my relationship with the Persons of the Holy Trinity. If I find meaning and comfort and energy with my God, then surely that is not introversion as commonly understood - even if prayer is private and alone and not in groups it is never, ever, truly alone or private. And for me that is important - we are made in the Image and Likeness of God - and God is Three Persons in constant relation and connection and communication, in relationship and abiding friendship: and as God's children this is how we are called to be with those who share our nature as well as with Him who assumed it. We are also called by Jesus to give up our perceive identity, our lives, our selves in order to gain freedom, true identity, and indeed life itself. We are called upon to live a life of sacrifice, which in reality is far from that but rather only a perceived sacrifice of something which actually is a liberation from one bondage or another. How we integrate these things into our lives, what they mean for each of us, is just part of the on going challenge of living in the Spirit yet in the fallen world, walking the road of the Gospel and yet treading and stumbling upon the mire of sin.