Entering Solitude

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Solitude is hard for me. I’m an extreme extrovert. I need to be around people. Like a lot. I recharge when I’m around people. And yet there is a need for solitude. I’ve tried solitude in the past. I really have. Some years ago, I rented a cabin in the woods for a three day spiritual retreat of solitude. I spent time hiking, I spent time in prayer. I spent time reading through the Bible. Three hours later I realized I had good cell reception and was on the phone to whomever I could call. I needed human contact.

A year ago, I went on a spiritual retreat to a Benedictine monastery. I thought that I could handle it. They had times of silence and times of worship together throughout the day. And they had a time for coffee/tea after the morning worship and before the evening worship. For about a half hour each. Bless them and their Benedictine hospitality because I yakked their ears off for both of those two hours. Benedictines are supposed to accept each person as if they were accepting Christ into their residence. It is a practice of hospitality. I think I pushed the limits with that.

I tried solitude another time earlier this year and almost had a panic attack because it was so quiet and I had no one to talk with.

I just can’t do solitude.

And then I learned that I was doing solitude all wrong.

Solitude is what is considered a spiritual discipline. The spiritual disciplines are actions that help followers of Jesus become closer to Jesus, learning to be more like Jesus. Each discipline (and there are a number of them) is aimed at helping each Jesus follower to grow spiritually in their faith walk, becoming more in-tune with the Holy Spirit and more in-tune in seeking God. Each discipline is like spiritual training. They aren’t dos and don’ts. It’s not a legalistic type of thing. Instead they’re meant to better a follower of Jesus more than anything else.

And I’ve taken time to learn these disciplines and to try to grow in my faith walk. I’ve learned that in the harder times, the more important to me these disciplines are to me. I’ve learned that they have created a mindfulness in me. I  have learned that they have created a way for me to live in the now rather in the past or future.

And I’ve also learned that not every spiritual discipline is for everyone. I’ve learned that each person encounters Jesus in different ways. Now, I want to make clear–Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to God the Father except through Him. At the same time, we all have different personalities, different ways of experiencing life. And so we come to Jesus in different ways.

I’ve tried solitude and it didn’t work. It didn’t work because I was doing it in the wrong way.

Solitude isn’t escaping away from life to cloister oneself up so that the outside world doesn’t impinge upon spirituality. Solitude is entering into the presence of God by oneself.

Jesus did this a lot. We read in the gospels how Jesus took time to go and enter into a time of prayer and solitude with the Father. In Mark, Jesus does so three times – each time right before or after an important event. Solitude then isn’t about being by oneself. It is being in the presence of God, enjoying His company. Just you and Him.

And so I now practice solitude and silence (another spiritual discipline I struggle with). My record is about 8 minutes of silence. But that’s another post (I think I already did one on it sometime back). I spend time in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, just being. Just being in the presence of God, being mindful of Him and who He is.

Yeah, sure, who has time for that. We all do. It just is a matter of scheduling it. If you’re willing to schedule a lunch with someone or schedule a meeting, you can schedule a meeting with God and just be present with him. And at first, it doesn’t even have to be long. It takes time. We’re not all supposed to be spiritual Bravehearts here. Instead we’re to take time to be in the presence of God. And when we do, we’re able to spend the day more in-tune to Him, to His Spirit, and to Jesus’s leading.

Enter into solitude with God and experience Him today.

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Participant

Outstanding Joshua, keep working at it!!!

It was a struggle for me as well, we often live our lives at 100 mph. Trying to put the brakes on long enough to for anything other then ourselves can be seem unnecessary and impossible. I for one have to make my time in the a.m., but my wife and I have a separate time we set aside for prayer together. My personal time is around 3:30 a.m. or as soon as I have my first cup of coffee down. I'm not sure exactly how the progress came about but I started by just reading a verse each morning I am now up to about 30 minutes of prayer. I found that the more I prayed the more I found to pray for. I can only say I believe that to be the Holy Spirit growing in me. Either way I truly enjoyed you post, thank you.   

Participant

Thanks, Joshua, for the post.  In the past, I felt a sense of guilt at my inability to practice the presence of God for more than a few minutes.  A spiritual guide, farther along in the journey of faith than I was, said, "Think of God the same way that you think of a loving parent with a small child.  The parent finds great joy when the child snuggles up and just quietly sits on the parent's lap.  However, a parent's joy and love aren't diminished in any when the child then runs off to play.  Giving myself the same grace that God extends to me has kept me from feeling guilty and, over time, my ability to be present and just "sit in the Father's lap" has greatly increased. 

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