You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed. (NLT)
Our human language has devised two words for the experience of being alone: solitude and loneliness. One evokes feelings of peace and rest, the other of pain and loss. We have to come to grips with our essential aloneness. Our passage today reminds us that we are uniquely made by our Creator. We are not a ‘job lot’. That means no-one else is exactly like us, no other person can precisely define who we are.
So we are faced with a choice. Will we create some welcome solitude in our lives or will we succumb to dreaded loneliness? If we value ourselves for who we are, if we embrace our uniqueness, if we recognise the love of our Creator, our aloneness can lead to solitude. I matter, I am loved. And so being alone is no terror to us.
But if we allow our distinctiveness to cut ourselves off from others, if we engage in compulsive comparisons which lead to lack of self-worth, if we forget the One who made us, then our aloneness can become life-sapping loneliness.
Loneliness causes us either to reject others or frantically cling to them. Solitude enables us to relate freely out of love. It is the sort of love described by the poet Rilke: “Love consists in this: that two solitudes border, protect, and salute one another.”