I like to be alone.
Though it may come as a surprise coming from one who is known to be the "life of the party," I find peace in isolation. Every day, I intentionally find pockets of time to whisk away in silence. For years, this notion of being alone was a way to be free from noise, retreat into my thoughts, and even escape the pressures of motherhood/life as a whole. During the years I struggled with depression, it was in midst of this loneliness that I would sink deeper and deeper. isolation was my safe place. It was through intentional acts of seeking community that this began to dwindle. It's been quite a journey. Now, however, being with people has become something I love more than anything. So although, I still like to be alone, I love building relationships much more.
Yet, lately, I've found myself drawn back to the quiet. Admittedly, my recent "moment of silence" began with a bad cough. In fact, from January to mid-March, I suffered from a cough that stopped me from being able to hold a conversation for more than a few moments at a time. Thus, in an instant, my routine of Facebook lives, and weekly podcasts abruptly came to an end. Though, I don't feel like the Lord caused me to be ill, I believe He used it as a way to tell me, "It's time to rest and listen."
During this time, the Lord began to speak the word "solitude" to my heart. I could hear Him calling me to…
Seek His voice
Refresh my perspective
Draw away from the crowd
Reconsider my motivation
Operate without announcement
Give, be, and exist wholeheartedly without an audience
In this, I have learned that solitude is the complete opposite of the isolation.
Isolation is a way to escape every day reality. Solitude is an opportunity to hear God's voice on how to reshape your reality.
Isolation and depression coexist with one another. Solitude and refreshing complement one another.
Judas sought isolation to wallow in his guilt. Jesus sought solitude to commune with the Father.
Isolation causes you to run away from people who hurt you. Solitude leads you to run towards the one who loves you unconditionally.
Friends, there is a difference between solitude and isolation. We see throughout the Bible great men who decided to draw away for a time period to hear from God.
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. Luke 6:12
In order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Galatians 1:15-17
“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting’… The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend Exodus 33:7
This list does not include Abraham, Elijah, David, or John the Baptist who also sought the Lord privately. It's no coincidence that these great men pulled away to seek God. It was in their moments of silence that God spoke direction and poured Himself our as a friend.
Today, I encourage you to seek moments of intentional solitude. Pull away from the busyness to capture moments for just you and the Lord. For some, this may mean purposefully waking early to pray and read. For others, you may create a mini-retreat for yourself. YES, make a plan to book a hotel to JUST pray and have time with the Lord. Or perhaps, your moment of solitude will be pulling away from an organization that you have been heavily involved in for a time of rest. Whatever, it looks like for you, do it on purpose. Remember, even the Lord rested.
I believe the Lord wants to speak to us but we are often too busy to hear Him. We allow life, relationships, and what I call "Holy Distractions" to be what keeps us going and we forget to simply pause and reflect. Let's not get so used to the routine of life and needing to be involved that we forget to retreat and seek the Lord for instruction. Remember, this is not isolation out of fear, rejection, or depression, but solitude for a time of refreshing.
There is victory in stepping back for a moment of time to hear from the Father. There is power and beauty in the silent moments.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Psalm 62:1
“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26
“In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35