Well, we’ve been discussing solitude for a few weeks now. And from your comments, it’s clear you see the need for it, but have a difficult time putting it into practice.
I totally get that.
I’ve spent much of the last ten years trying to develop and maintain the discipline of solitude. With every addition to our family, moving our home or moving a kid through a developmental milestone, I’ve got to reorient my quiet time.
Some seasons have been more challenging than others. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle. Sometimes it feels like more trouble than it’s worth. Sometimes it feels self-indulgent.
I’ve come to realize that I set the emotional thermostat in our house. Where Mommy goes, so goes the family. Therefore, my inner peace is of utmost importance if I desire an atmosphere of peace in our home—which I do.
Therefore, taking time for solitude—time to wait in silence on God to allow Him to speak to my heart, and be filled with wisdom and strength—is not an option. It’s a deliberate action on my part. But one that pays high dividends—namely, in the ability to hear God’s voice.
I know life is loud. People are busy, bombarded, stressed and stretched.
Perfection is not possible. And if it were, it certainly couldn’t be reduced to a three-point “How-To” list.
1. Blog entries read much more smoothly when things are numbered
2. Goals appear more attainable when they are broken up in list-form
3. Checking things off a list makes us feel oh, so productive
4. Even an irrelevant list like this seems credible, simply because it’s a list
5. See! I can even add another number here and it seems really important
So at the risk of sounding completely trite, I am going to give you a few tips I’ll call
Finding Your Place of Solitude
(Loosely adapted from Richard J. Foster’s book, The Celebration of Discipline—emphasis on ‘loosely’)
1. Look for small moments in the day. Whether you have a house full of kids or spend your days at work (or both!), recognizing small moments can be challenging. We all get them, though. It’s just a matter of seizing them when they show up. Here are some places to “look”:
a. Get up before the rest of the family or stay up after they go to bed
b. Take a few minutes and watch the sun rise or sun set
c. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air, noticing the details of creation
d. Turn off the radio when you drive
e. Keep the TV off when you are home
f. If your kids are too old to nap, send them into their room for an hour so everyone has some quiet time
g. Take a walk alone during lunch
h. Drive to a park and eat lunch in your car or on a bench
i. And if all else fails, turn on the washer and dryer and go sit on the laundry room floor…Don’t laugh—I’ve done this.
to me, they add instant ambiance to any room. Let others know this is your quiet place so they won’t disturb you.
a. A chair or a room
b. A porch swing or park bench
c. A beach, a lake, or the mountains
d. And if all else fails, the laundry room
3. If you are anything like me, you’ll finally carve out a time of silence, and a hundred things will rush into your head that you need to do and cannot forget. Not very conducive for hearing God’s voice, eh? For this reason I do this:
a. Try to remember paper and a pen. That way, as things come into my mind, I can quickly jot them down and immediately get back to meditating on God.
b. Refuse to answer the phone or the door
c. Keep my Bible close by, so I can control my thoughts and God can speak to me through His word
d. Keep my journal with me, so I can document what I think God is saying
e. Be forgiving of myself. This is a discipline to help me concentrate on God. It’s not ammunition to use against myself when I don’t feel like I’m measuring up to what I want to be
f. If I’m in the laundry room, I don’t fold laundry
Do any of you have any additional ideas about carving out moments of solitude in your day? I’d love to hear them! Or just leave a comment and let me know you stopped by today.