Choosing Loneliness

So if you haven’t picked up on the recent theme in my life, it’s loneliness. I’m lonely. Some days it hurts, some days I appreciate it.

But I always go through the same debate in my head. Will it get easier when I am married? Will marriage solve my depression and loneliness woes? On the one hand I think, yes, of course I won’t be lonely anymore! On the other hand I think, when I get married I’ll still be bringing myself into the marriage, my “issues” won’t just dissolve away because I start sharing a bed with someone…

Soren Kierkegaard has an opinion on this subject. I know everyone has heard his name, and I’m sure that I have read articles, books, or quotes by him in college, but honestly I couldn’t tell you exactly what he wrote or what I read. I can tell you though, that whenever I do remember seeing or hearing his name it was in high reverence for his great wisdom, and I think this case is no exception. I recently found an article by a Catholic author that talked about Kierkegaard’s position towards loneliness. Kierkegaard fell deeply in love at one point in life, but broke off the marriage in order to live life as a celibate. He chose to live life as a celibate because he believed as a single man the loneliness he would experience would allow him to enter into the deep suffering of others and be able to empathize more sincerely. (you can read the article here: Cultivating Loneliness)

The author of the article states:
Our loneliness is a privileged medium through which to enter our own hearts. Listening to our own loneliness puts us in touch with ourselves. When we come to grips with our longing we discover, as Henri Nouwen puts it, that nothing is foreign to us (grandiosity, greatness, greed, generosity, frustration, joy, the capacity to kill, the capacity to die for another, selfishness, sanctity). Every human feeling and the potential for every human action lies within the complexity of our inconsummate hearts. In our loneliness and longing we are introduced to ourselves. 

Now the obvious comment one may make is that marriage and loneliness are not exactly mutually exclusive, and I believe that’s true.

I also believe that the loneliness I have experienced in my life (and I’m speaking not just of being physically by myself, but also the lack of deep connection with other people) has taught me a lot- about feeling deeply, about who I am at my core, about the intimate relationship that my God desires to have with me. 

So today I am thankful for my loneliness. I am thankful for the time I have had to get to know myself more,  to get to know my God more, and to explore the pain and longing in the depths of my soul. I am thankful for the ability to enter into the deep well of my brothers’ and sisters’ suffering. I am thankful for the pain that I still feel despite the fact that I am thankful for my loneliness.

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