Craving a moment of silence, I quickened my pace as I walked to my car after church. At last, I could be alone. There was no one to talk to, listen to, or interact with.
Honestly, I could spend hours alone, enjoying the peace and quiet. Interacting with others can be enjoyable, but it’s also exhausting. Thankfully, I can escape to my room or my car when I need a break from people. I can be completely alone there.
But being utterly alone can quickly become utterly dangerous.
Beware of the Isolation Trap
Though being alone is valuable because it leads to rejuvenation, being alone too much is dangerous. Oftentimes, when we’re alone, we’re especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. There’s a balance between spending too much time with people and spending too much time by yourself. In fact, Jesus perfectly demonstrated this balance:
When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. (Mark 1:32-39 NASB)
Based on the text, Jesus ministered in the evening, woke up early to pray, and continued ministering the next day. This is just one example of Jesus’ commitment to His earthly purpose and to His Father. I would find this lifestyle exhausting, but Jesus didn’t isolate Himself to escape from it.
Instead, He encouraged. He worked. He was engaged. He stayed. And when He was alone, He was praying to His Father.
If only we could follow His example in our lives.
4 Ways to Find the Balance
Christ balanced between being involved in the lives of others and using His alone time to draw near to God the Father. We can find that balance, too! There are several things we can do when we’re tempted to isolate ourselves:
1. Find opportunities to fellowship with other Christians. Satan will have difficulty feeding us lies when we’re listening to the truth from believers, but we can’t listen to the truth from them if we avoid them. Try to find ministry opportunities to help with or attend. Maybe you can start a Bible study, join the worship team, or attend a singles’ group. A major time commitment isn’t necessary, but fellowship is (Hebrews 10:25).
2. Spend short periods of time alone. I understand the need to be alone (especially if you’re an introvert like me). We can’t change our personality types, but we can reduce alone-time. For example, while it could be safe to spend fifteen minutes alone, it would be unwise to spend three hours alone because Satan can tell you countless lies in that amount of time. There’s no “perfect” length of time to be alone, but the point is that short periods of alone time can be beneficial, while long periods of alone time are often destructive.
3. Use your alone time to be with Jesus. Though it’s tempting to check Instagram or watch Netflix when we’re alone, the best alone time is spent with Jesus. Honestly, we’re never actually alone because He’s always with us—and He wants us to take advantage of that. That could mean studying the Bible, singing worship songs, or thanking God for His blessings. Satan will only flee if we resist him, but we can’t resist him if we’re disconnected from our Father (James 4:17).
4. Find an accountability partner. When my older sister politely reminds me to spend time with others, I find it irritating at the time; but her reminders are beneficial for my spiritual health. Perhaps your parent, sibling, spouse, or friend could be your accountability partner. What may seem like nagging from them is actually encouragement. Accountability partners can provide a nudge in the right direction.
Being alone isn’t sinful, but neglecting our time with other believers is (Hebrews 10:25). Not only can we glean encouragement from other Christians, but we can—and should—encourage them also. We’re all hearing the same kinds of lies from Satan, and we’re all called to obey the same Truth. Let’s follow Christ’s example of using our time with others and our time alone to honor Him.