Solitude = Inner Fulfillment vs. Loneliness = Inner Emptiness
As stated by Richard Foster, author of the Celebration of Discipline, our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds. We keep up a constant stream of words even if they are inane. A business executive sits dejected in her office, powerful, yet alone. A college freshman yearns for his high school days when he was the center of attention: ‘Now, I’m a nobody.” A single man or woman yearning for a relationship sometimes choose their mate because they’re lonely, not because they are in love.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top.” But loneliness or clatter are not our only alternatives. We can cultivate an inner solitude and silence that sets us free from loneliness and fear. Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment.
Solitude is more of a state of mind. When we possess inward solitude, we do not fear being left alone, neither do we fear being with others, for they don’t control us. However, without silence there is no solitude. Walking in solitude means that you’re even comfortable being in a place of complete silence when you are alone. Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening. When we operate in solitude we allow God to provide guidance and lead our decisions vs. operating out of loneliness and insecurity which can sometimes lead to poor decision making.
As leaders, it is important for us to understand how to conquer loneliness. It is our enemy. It can make you weak and succumb to things you never thought you would. We have to be comfortable making unpopular decisions because we always have to look at the bigger picture. Yes, you may feel like you’re all alone and that you have very little support. However in the end, you will find that you’ve done the right thing.
For more information on how to live successfully in solitude, I recommend the Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. (See Resources Page)