“I would like to voice loudly and clearly what might seem unpopular and maybe even disturbing: The Christian way of life does not take away our loneliness; it protects and cherishes it as a precious gift.”
— Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932–1996)
BREATHING fresh spiritual air is the name and game of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – that is, the reality of an abundant life so brimming with answers to life’s mysteries that it truly does reveal the Gospel as humanity’s true hope.
Answers to life’s mysteries: the attesting of God’s Presence and faithfulness in and through all human experience, yes, even the worst, with the average, with the best – all of it.
It bears remembering that the Christian life is no golden experience of unrivalled joy without the pain everybody else experiences. No, Christian life simply prepares us to live those painful realities without denying them, whilst giving us the strength in our weakness to embrace our brokenness.
Valuing Your Essential Loneliness
To understand that existence in human form carries with it an essential loneliness – as part of the human condition of being away from the Lord – is an invitation to accept it. Accepting something means we can take on an additional challenge – to value it – and to truly embrace a reality many loathe their whole lives long.
Valuing your essential loneliness is about knowing it’s the very reason we need God; that there’s futility and insanity in resenting the loneliness or God for allowing it.
God knows we have loneliness to enhance our experience of the Divine – that’s how the Lord has brought something of life out of the very remembrance of death: that is, loneliness, brokenness, isolation, separation, alienation.
Vitalizing Your Essential Loneliness
Having accepted our essential loneliness, we go on into the reality of vitalizing it – bringing it to life and into practical use. Not just an invitation into God himself, this essential loneliness grants us the opportunity to make use of it.
Vitalizing our essential loneliness is about wearing it on our sleeves with availability for ourselves and others. We don’t shy away from it, but we talk about it, we radically accept it, and honour God that it drives us into the very heart of the Divine.
Loneliness is central to the human condition, but God turns what is bad into something good by using it to turn us toward him. Loneliness is essential in bringing us into God, that our Lord might show us protect and cherish it as a precious gift.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.