There is no doubt that we are created to be social creatures. It wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, and it’s not good for us to be alone. Too much time alone can lead to depression, which makes it even harder to launch yourself back into a social environment.
However, there are times when it is good to be alone. How do we tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy alone time?
Most people think I am an extrovert because, when I am in public, I love to be in the middle of events and conversations. As a pastor, much of my life is spent in the public square, teaching and ministering with others. However, I need lots of time to myself in order to recharge because I can find social events exhausting.
I try to give as much as myself as I can to others, which often leaves me feeling drained. This is why I love being alone. I can spend days at my house without talking to anyone, and it doesn’t bother me a bit.
As much as I love alone time, I recognize that I have to be careful. We are not as connected as we once were. Social media has replaced much of our regular interaction with other people. Those in college can easily seclude themselves in their dorm room and find themselves drifting into depression. One of the things I learned is that there are two different kinds of alone time. There is solitude and isolation.
Solitude is the time I spend alone with God. That time is healthy and can be spent in prayer, Scripture study or other tasks of service. It’s rare that I fine myself alone at home, but when I do, I try to make the best by serving my family through cleaning or checking things of my wife’s “to do” list. Sometimes it could be resting on the couch when I recognize my batteries are running on empty.
Isolation, however, is time spent away from God. It’s when you are alone that you might watch something on TV or visit a website that is destructive to your soul. Down time can quickly turn into lazy days where you hide yourself off from the world.
What kind of alone time are you getting? Is it solitude or isolation? One will leave you feeling energized the other will only leave you more drained than when you started.
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6).