I used to hate to be alone.
As a child, teenager, and young woman, I surrounded myself with others. My mom used to call me her little social butterfly. I was always busy doing something with someone.
Now, turning fifty-three, I find so much pleasure in just being alone.
Quiet solitude brings me so much joy.
I wake up early in the morning almost every day to just go be alone with Jesus. I usually catch the sun rising over the mountains as I have my first cup of coffee.
It is here, in this quiet stillness, that I hear the voice of God.
However, it was not always like that for me.
It turned out that solitude was a powerful spiritual discipline that took me years to learn.
I think the simplest and most common reason I used to avoid being alone with God was that solitude forced me to face everything in my life head-on. I had to confront things I probably hoped to hide from. This included me, others, and most certainly God.
This was because solitude and silence bring to the surface our inner conflicts, distress, and longings.
This internal confrontation is why solitude was very difficult for me and usually is very difficult for most people.
Henri Nouwen describes how our initial experience in complete quiet and aloneness with God is likely to feel:
Solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is the place of conversion, the place where the old self dies, and the new self is born…
In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding: no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me – naked, vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken – nothing. It is this nothingness that I have to face in my solitude, a nothingness so dreadful that everything in me wants to run to my friends, my work, and my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe that I am worth something.
But that is not all. As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree. Anger and greed begin to show their ugly faces. I give long, hostile speeches to my enemies and dream lustful dreams in which I am wealthy, influential, and very attractive – or poor, ugly, and in need of immediate consolation. Thus, I try again to run from the dark abyss of my nothingness and restore my false self in all its vainglory…
The wisdom of the desert is that the confrontation with our own frightening nothingness forces us to surrender ourselves totally and unconditionally to the Lord Jesus Christ (The Way of the Heart, p. 27-28).
Ladies we all need to understand that without time alone with God, the aspects of our lives that need the most work often go ignored or unseen.
without solitude, we often are not prepared for our day.
For it is, when we are alone, by ourselves, that we realize God is right there. At that point the solitude allows us to grow closer to Him.
We begin to address the things going on in our lives, thoughts, and dreams.
We are able to see clearly, through a Godly perspective.
We are able to listen.
We are able to let the Holy Spirit do His work within us.
When we spend time in solitude, we get away from all the things that distract us from our true reality. We see inside our lives, our thoughts, and our behaviors.
Solitude brings us peace that can’t be found anywhere else.
The Example of Jesus:
Jesus began his public ministry with 40 days of withdrawal into the desert wilderness to fast and pray in solitude and silence. He was alone, hungry, hot, and thirsty, surrounded by wild animals, and tested by Satan.
Interspersed throughout Jesus’ ministry of preaching, healing, and discipling we see him withdraw from the crowds again and again – often getting up very early to do so – in order to be quiet and alone with the Father. There are many examples in the Gospels of Jesus’ Solitude and Silence with the Father and how important it was to Him.
Once you push through the initial discomfort and challenge of solitude, you’ll find that it will bring the wonderful refreshment of God’s peace, “that transcends all understanding” and “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Holy Beautiful Life