What if I asked you, “So, what have you been doing?” And you respond by saying, “Oh, nothing at all. I really wish I had something to do.” Of course, no one would respond that way. Instead, you’d probably say something like “I’m really overwhelmed right now. It’s crazy.” If so, you’re not alone. I can’t recall a time recently when I’ve spoken with someone who didn’t tell me how overwhelmed they were with all that’s happening in our homes, in our work, in our communities, and in the world.
If we aren’t careful, constant stress ultimately will lead us to a searing desert where joy evaporates and emptiness fills our lives and relationships. But solitude and silence make up an oasis where Living Water will refresh the scorched soul and renew the muddied mind. Here’s how to find it.
At least once a year, I retreat to an “oasis” for reflection, refreshment, and renewal. I find a place somewhere outside of our home where I can spend the day alone, just me and God, without any connection to the outside world. In the past, I’ve gone to a secluded beach, a quiet park, or a friend’s condo. I sometimes bring uplifting music. I often bring a pen and pad of paper to jot down what I’m learning. And I always bring my Bible, which pours Living Water into my soul. From my experience, silence and solitude can do at least 5 things.
1. Solitude and silence can make you feel helpless.
When you’re alone and not “doing,” you start thinking about how little control you ultimately have and have ever had, over just about everything that’s important, like your spouse, your kids, your work. Now, I’m not suggesting we can’t control how we behave, how we treat our spouses, how we raise our kids, or how we lead at work. I’m just saying I can’t ultimately control the outcome or results. We can’t control someone else’s heart and mind and we can’t control all our circumstances—only God can do that.
We can’t control someone else’s heart and mind and we can’t control all our circumstances—only God can do that.
2. Solitude and silence can force you to address issues you’d rather avoid.
When you stop and think, the root cause of your marriage problems might become clearer. A retreat also can give you time to grieve a great loss—the loss of your parents, a child, a friend.
3. Solitude and silence can help you reflect upon your life.
The purpose here is not to dwell on your mistakes that have been forgiven. The reason for this time is for you to think with true humility about any changes that need to be made in your life—not someone else’s—from this day forward.
4. Solitude and silence can allow you to do some deep thinking and focus on what’s truly important.
Loving God and loving others including your spouse, children, family, friends, and even enemies should be at the very top of your list of what really matters.
5. Solitude and silence can be the wellspring of hope in your life.
I’m not suggesting every time you spend this time alone that your life will drastically change. But I am saying that this time can restore, renew, and re-energize you toward a life of meaning and purpose.
Do you spend any time in solitude and silence? If so, what has been your experience?