One of the best things about the lockdown, is the moments of solitude it comes with. The space to reflect, meditate and look inside ourselves, the opportunity to reconnect or go deeper with God. It is true that isolation has been the cause of mental illness in this period and many have had to suffer the turmoil that comes with the threat of incapacitation. Isolation however when harnessed can be a great opportunity for growth and expansion of our inner man and internal capacities. It is an opportunity to confront our weaknesses, build new strengths and firm foundations. Although honestly speaking a place the majority of us are afraid of, there’s a lot to benefit from embracing isolation or solitude as I will refer to it henceforth.
Solitude is not a thing many of us are accustomed to but the lockdown has thrashed it at our doorsteps and left us to squirm our way past it, wishing it, even praying it away. Gone are the regular catch up sessions with buddies, the warmth of receiving hundreds of hugs in one week, the sound of the party and hearty laughter from hilarious albeit lengthy conversations with family and friends. But, as you may have discovered by now, it is a blessing in disguise.
Recently as I read through a devotional by Henry Nouwen I encountered a question that had riveting effects on my perception and attitude towards the silence that comes with being by ourselves. He asked ‘what are you afraid to hear if you lower the activity and noise levels of your life?’.
I realized as I pondered upon the question that while we miss the company of those we like to share our lives with, we are often afraid of solitude because when we are alone and silent then all the voices of chaos on the inside of us get louder. They want our attention and demand a solution yet we feel incapable of solving them. Often we do not have the answers that we need or that they require.
So asking us to be alone feels like asking us to face the fact that we are not as much in control of our lives as we would like to believe. It is daring us to confront the troubles and concerns of our lives and have to shrink at their feet which we would rather not do. But in there is the blessedness. That while the fear to not be in control scares us off, solitude is actually an opportunity to yes, admit that we cannot control the things that are causing chaos, but also to surrender them to the One who has all the control. It is not just to have storms churned in our minds but to invite the Savior in to calm the storms.
Solitude causes the voices on the inside of us to sound louder when we would rather not hear them, but that is only in the beginning. As we linger in the presence of God and spend quiet moments by ourselves, we have a real opportunity to lay these voices and cares in the hands of the One who is able to sort it all out.
Also in these moments of quiet surrender lie opportunities to tap into deeper mental or spiritual resources and creativity. Solitude has been the birthplace for some of the greatest ideas and inventions of mankind. We connect with the divine and access the mind of God in a way no amount of brainstorming or planning can accomplish, because when we are still, we hear Him and ourselves best. For the time I have embraced the practice of solitude, I have found consistently that three things happen; I come away with a peace I have not known before, I receive an answer to puzzle I have been wrestling with and lastly, I hear a new word from God.
David rightly says “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
Consider this therefore an invitation to deliberately sit still before the Lord, by yourself in this period so that you can enjoy this blessing. Rather than worry about feeling lonely and neglected, turn these into moments of adventure to commune with the Lord and yourself. Yes, with yourself as well because every seed of greatness you seek is already planted on the inside of you. Take time to discover it. Allow God to reintroduce Himself to you and you to yourself.