Today I’m going to write about solitude, also known as “Quiet Time” or if you’re a super-hip-Jesus-Freak, you may refer to it as “QT.” I’m currently in a discipleship group that is encouraging us to engage in regular times of solitude to connect with God. In this buzzing and whirling world of noise and technology you’d think that solitude would be like drinking an ice-cold glass of water on a hot August night. You would think that wouldn’t you? You’d think we’d be so eager to slam our bedroom door, switch off our phones/tv’s/computers, and just rest for a minute in God’s presence. Yet, we don’t. We’re so thirsty yet we can’t just STOP and take a drink of water already.
What’s the deal?
Ok, I can’t say this for everyone but I’ll tell you what my deal is. Ready? Its kind of embarrassing. I’m so incredibly busy with unimportant time-suckers that I don’t even realize that I’m thirsty.
Do you have kids? If not, maybe you can remember being one. Just bear with me for a sec. Do you ever remember peeing your pants? (I promise this is connected.) Ok, think back to a time when you peed your pants and you had that sinking feeling (not to mention that warm wet feeling) that you had messed-up. You were having so much fun playing Duck Hunt (I’m dating myself here) or hop scotch that you didn’t even realize you had to go until it was too late.
Well, I’m 30 and I’m still like the little girl who once peed her pants. I’m so wrapped-up in what’s going on this world that I don’t realize I have a deep need that requires my attention. Have you ever noticed how a kid feels after they wet their pants? They usually seem ashamed. That is exactly how I feel now when I forget to stay connected to God.
Now, hear me here, God doesn’t want me to feel ashamed, just as we have grace for our children who are learning. Yet, I still feel so disappointed in myself. I don’t like who I become when I don’t stay connected to God. Everything is affected when I don’t, especially my relationships. I know it’s the best thing for me to have consistent solitude. I KNOW IT. It’s just… well, I either forget what I know or I put it off because I’m avoiding something.
That’s the truth. Sometimes I am very aware (as is everyone around me, I’m guessing) that I could benefit from slowing down and spending time with God. Well, remember that shame thing I talked about before? You know, after we pee our pants? Well, sometimes when I feel ashamed I develop an even greater aversion to solitude. Who wants to sit in their ugly muck and just sit there? Did I mention the muck?? And the just sitting?? Who wants that?
Yesterday, I was so desperate that I decided to give muck-sitting a shot. Can I tell you, it was awesome. You have to try it. I’m not even being sarcastic. Here’s how it went down:
Me: God, I’m feeling like a shell of a person. I know there’s stuff deep down that wants to get out but right now it’s being covered-up by layers of meaningless to-do’s and do-gooder to-do’s. I’m actually really scared of what might underneath all the layers.
Then I just sat there for a minute, meditating on God’s grace and peace. That’s when I had an image of my past self brought into my mind. It was a time when I felt completely incompetent and very small. It was a time filled with shame.
I sat with that feeling for a little bit. It felt like 30 minutes but it was literally 3 minutes.
God then reminded me that He was with me in those feelings. I was not alone then and I’m not alone now. I didn’t feel that stinging shameful feeling, I felt warm and loved… but still kind of small.
He encouraged me to stop my busyness and to allow myself to be loved by Him and by others. I’m so busy trying to help everyone else but I’m not allowing anyone else to help me. He showed me that the parts of me that are incompetent and that need help are nothing to be ashamed of. They’re human. It’s ok to be small sometimes.
I can tell you that I am so glad I took 30 minutes out of my day to let God in. We all have muck but God wants to meet us there, clean us off, and encourage us. Our God is the God of hope remember? He wants to refresh our minds and give us His Kingdom perspective. He wants to melt away our meaningless worries and give us the gift of peace. Solitude in of itself is a huge gift. Like a much-needed retreat for the soul, God wants to replenish our strength. If you’re thirsty, let Him do that for you today. Take the gift that’s waiting for you.
Here’s a quick list of suggestions to help in your QT:
1. Find a place where there will be no distractions.
2. Decide on an amount of time you’d like to spend, start with something short like 15 minutes.
3. Pick a name for God that is meaningful to you (eg. Abba) or a worship song or a favorite verse. Use that to meditate on as you are in your quiet time.
4. When other things start to enter your mind, you can either write them down so that they are out of your mind and on paper or you can mentally label the thoughts as “worry” or “thinking” or “planning” whatever category works for that thought. Then release the thought and go back to focusing on the meditation.
5. Once you have calmed your mind, try to allow silence so that God can bring what He has for you.
Be encouraged, it gets easier with time! It’s so worth it.