Anyone like a good ‘ol Sunday afternoon nap? Stretch out in your favorite chair or couch and snuggle up with a cozy blanket? I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it! 🙂 I don’t take naps very often. It’s funny how, as children, we didn’t want to take one, but now, as adults, we love our naps! Anyway, last Sunday after lunch, I was getting sleepy and thought I’d stretch out in my chair and take a nap. The house was quiet and I thought perfect timing. I was just getting ready to drift off into snoozeville, when one of my kids started moving around the house, not so quietly. I tried, as best as I could, to ignore the noise, but to no avail, snoozeville would have to wait! I’ve lost count how many times I’ve tried to nap and just as I’m getting ready to drift off a kid comes home, someone has a question, they decide at that moment to go out and play basketball or because I don’t feed my children (I really do!) they want to know what’s for the next meal. Every once in a blue moon, when I am the only one home, I get a 15-20 minute power nap in. I’ll take it!
Busyness and noise have overtaken our ability to stop and be still; to be experience solitude and silence. To some, solitude and silence is deafening and threatening to self perseverance. The crazy part is, is that the solitude and silence is what strengthening inner self perseverance and peace.
I didn’t really understand or value the importance of solitude and silence until my late husband and I went on a spiritual retreat. They are designed for pastors and spouses to retreat; get away from the demands of the church, the hustle and bustle of daily life, to rest and to spend some quality, uninterrupted time with God and with each other. The first one we went on was 10 years ago. We went to a secluded place (on a lake 🙂 ) in Michigan. Neither of us had been there or knew what to expect. The week strengthened our marriage and refueled our passion for ministry. I will say it took a couple of days for our minds to slow down. Our bodies slowed down pretty quickly!! Sleeping in and afternoon naps were the norm for the week! As our minds slowed down, we were able to be more present and aware of God’s presence, words, strength and rest in His arms. We continued to do this in different places for the following 6 years.
During the times of our retreats I began to learn and understand the importance to be still and of silence and solitude. Over time, I began to yearn for it. I caught on to the power of that time and the strength and wisdom that was gained during that time. Since the passing of my husband, almost 3 years ago, the chance to get away for a week of silence and solitude has been a challenge. It’s not just the logistics of who is going to take care of the kids or where to go, It’s that grief snuck in and changed what that looks like for me.
Those retreats were precious times he and I spent together. So, when thinking about needing the time to be still, I knew it would need to look different. Different time, different place, slightly different focus.
At the heart of it all is Christ. My soul thirsts to be in His inner sanctuary of stillness, silence, solitude and peace. This is one of those things that is difficult to put into words because words can not express the impact and importance this time with HIm has meant to me spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
Let’s talk about solitude for just a minute. Unfortunately, loneliness has a tendency to creep in when I seek out solitude. Loneliness is something I have struggled with off and on over the years. I can be in a room filled with my loved ones, people I do life with or complete strangers and the fingers of loneliness start to tighten around my heart. Needless to say, I have several false starts with solitude!
In my “serious book” I’ve been reading lately, “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas WIllard, he explains solitude and silence in a way that made me sit back, stop reading and think. (That has happened a lot during this book, hence the long duration of time it has taken me to read it! 🙂 ) “And the cure of loneliness is solitude and silence, for there you discover in how many ways you are never alone.” What? In solitude and silence, I’m by myself, no one else around. How do I see the many ways that I am never alone? Am I not sitting here alone? I had to read that several times and let it role around in my head for a few days.
They key, that unlocks it all, is the presence of Christ. Follow me for a minute! To escape the noise and busyness of life, you have to remove yourself, step away, put the phone/technology down, and “go to a quiet place.” Once in your quiet place, you may physically stop, but it takes some additional time and effort to get your mind to stop and be still. Now, you are still and silent. You now have the chance to look around you, see it through God’s eyes, see His creation, His beauty, His presence is everywhere. Your mind is now focused on the things above and not the things below. You notice the beautiful colors of nature, the squirrels chasing each other up and down the trees, the blue sky and fluffy white clouds, a couple walking along hand and hand laughing and smiling, the childrens simple delight in flying down a slide or soaring through the air on a swing. And all of a sudden, you realize you are not alone. Christ is sitting next to you with His arms wrapped around your shoulders, whispering in your ear that you are precious, you are His, and that He is right here with you. Your focus turned from yourself and tuned into the creation around you. And you now realize that in many ways you are never alone. The loneliness dissipates and the fullness overflows.
If you are one that deals with loneliness, let this be an encouragement and a reminder that loneliness is not of Christ. Christ is quite opposite in ways we cannot grasp. And that is reassurance of HIs omni-presence. To be still in silence and solitude is to draw you closer to Him and away from yourself and loneliness. Easier said than done at times, but well worth the multiple retries, because when you have success, your soul thirsts for more and loneliness is in the rear view mirror.
Take a chance, a leap of faith, try an experiment, step away from the busyness and noise and sit for a few moments in silence and solitude in His presence and watch how you will be blessed!
Shoo, that was a long moment! Thanks for sticking it out with me. We are in this together in HIm.