You're heard the expression "alone in a crowd" I'm sure. I think that might be a good, short definition of what it means to feel lonely. To just be alone, however, is entirely different. It's something we should all strive to obtain from time to time. Henry David Thoreau spent 2 years in a cabin by Walden Pond. He made sojourns into town often and had visitors, so his experiment was not about being totally without social interaction. It had more to do with discovering more about himself.
Mark Nepo, in his book "The Book of Awakening" writes there are two basic ways to feel the fullness of life: our love of life and our love of each other. He says, "It's like taking the path of our aloneness deep enough through the woods so we can reach that unspoiled clearing." He says an obstacle to this is "the hesitancy that keeps us from being either fully alone with life or fully alone with each other. Being half anywhere is the true beginning of loneliness." The reason so many don't want to "be by themselves" is because they don't want to "be with themselves". What's interesting is, then why would they think anyone else would want to be with them? Unfortunately, too often people do eventually realize this and become hermits as a result. Hiding away is not the solution, however.
Alan Cohen has a response to this dilemma in his book "A Daily Dose of Sanity". He writes, "If you enter a relationship to offset loneliness, the relationship will only intensify your loneliness. If you bring wholeness to your relationship, you will feel even more whole." The key, then, is to take that path of aloneness Mark Nepo speaks of that leads you to the unspoiled clearing--your Soul. That is who you really are, and I can assure you there really is a lovely person who resides there. It's your original self--the self that was born an innocent baby before life happened. He/she is still there. It's where God resides, waiting patiently for you to return and claim your birthright that Jesus Christ paved the way for.
Cohen concludes by encouraging us to "fall in love, marry and create a relationship that makes your heart sing. Just remember that it is your own self you are searching for."
Father, help me to remember that my relationships are not meant to complete me. Only in returning to You can I find my wholeness.
Link to scripture: Colossians 2:9-10
Take action: Six Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone