I Just Don’t Get It!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I feel like God is really working on me to develop the discipline of solitude.  To be honest, this is a really challenging thing for me to comprehend and implement in my life.

I read a great devotional from the book Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen by Charles Ringma and a few of the passages helped me understand solitude just a bit better.

Solitude is not simply a withdrawal from the world in order to be renewed and refreshed.  It is also finding a center of inner quietness and certitude from which we act in the midst of a busy and demanding world.

In our much-doing we lose perspective, lose our energy, and more importantly, lose our creativity and sense of humor.  We thus begin to carry the world on our shoulders and soon become overwhelmed or disillusioned.  But to simply withdraw does not provide the way forward, for we then take our hurt or tired self with us.  Rather, the movement to solitude is to find a renewed self, and from the center of being loved and nourished we can again enter our world with purposeful engagement and joyful detachment.

Solitude is going to be a process for me.  I can’t wait to get to the other side and experience “a renewed self”.

How do you experience solitude in the midst of your crazy, busy life?

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  • jan owen March 18, 2009  

    Jenni, I have found that solitude does indeed center me and enables me (If I give it enough time and don’t run from it)to see the truth about myself and my life. Where I’m out of balance, what is truly pertinent for me, etc. It helps me to feel more at home with what is truly “me”. When I practice solitude I find that I am able to re-engage the world and minister in a way that is more fully “me”. In solitude I am not only drawn to God, but to the ME He created me to be!

    I don’t remember where I read this but someone wise said “Action without contemplation (prayer, withdrawing, etc) is disaster.”

    I am learning to focus more on BEING and then DOING out of that being with God. The results – for me – are more life giving and not just my own ideas and action. I feel more truly led by the Spirit.

    Now that my retreat community is over I am trying to go to a state park for a 24 hour period every month. No internet, no tv….just me, my bible, journal, a book, and maybe my laptop for writing and processing.

  • When life starts getting too crazy for me, GOD totally takes over….then I realize I need my QUITE GOD TIME! Get my Bible out and just start focusing, He takes it from there!

  • mandythompson March 18, 2009  

    I tell my husband to go study at the library. 🙂 Our seminary schedule is such that I can block out a few Fridays each month just to get quiet by myself. ahhhh how sweet it is!

    Contrary to popular belief, I lean towards introversion. I can’t imagine what it’d be like for those who struggle with solitude.
    It’s the only way I can hear myself think – listen to songs as they swell up from within – and draw in a deep breath before I exhale in life.

    Enjoy that solitude, Jenni!

  • Kelli March 18, 2009  

    I must agree with Mandy. I cant imagine what its like to struggle with solitude. I crave it. I go to the bookstore or to a park or not so crowded place at least once a week to write honestly in my journal and reflect. If I didnt have that space and time I would lose it. Im that person who loves her husband, loves her children, loves her friends and family, but will go to a movie, dinner, or shopping all by herself.

    Once you get into the habit of solitude here and there, I pray that you find sweet peace and refreshment.

  • Jenni Catron March 18, 2009  

    Thanks for chiming in everyone. I’m definitely an introvert by nature and LOVE solitude. @Kelli – I too have no problem going to movie, dinner or shopping by myself. My challenge is that I feel guilty taking this time alone. I manage to schedule my life away and don’t take the time for solitude – that’s the part I need to restore.

  • Linnae Hoppe March 18, 2009  

    In the mornings I have to be alone and quiet. There are two times when I know there will be quiet: very early in the morning, and really late at night. So I have to choose which one will be my time of “solitude”.

    So for me, it’s early in the morning. I wake up and get to that place where I spend alone with the Lord, and stay there for a while reading/praying, etc. This is absolutely crucial to my days. It would be a very scary thing to go about the day without having that time with Him, b/c I know I’m going to come in contact with people who be affected by my actions. I think we have to get to a place where we are able to unplug and withdraw at some point every day. I don’t turn on my computer and have my phone on silent so that people can’t reach me. It’s so refreshing!

    That quote is so good: “..the movement to solitude is to find a renewed self, and from the center of being loved and nourished we can again enter our world with purposeful engagement and joyful detachment.”

    I find my renewal and nourishment in the Lord before I begin my day, and from that is an overflow in my heart to share that with others.

    I’m totally out of whack when I don’t have this “solitutde”

  • Jessica March 18, 2009  

    well i have trouble with this as well. and i dont do very good setting time aside for it. I think you are way better at it

  • Heidi March 18, 2009  

    I’m the opposite.. I am an extrovert. I love being with people and doing things for people. I’d rather be doing ministry or working or spending time with my kids rather than spending time alone. I want conversation, music, or a tv noisly in the background.

    But weekdays morning (if I can) I go to the beach. I only live minutes from it. I walk the pier, or walk the long strand. I used to feel REAL guilty because I was spending quiet time with myself. Almost selfish, then ALL of the sudden, I found the beach, I found God at the beach, and now I crave that time.

    MY time…..

  • Marion Karr March 19, 2009  

    I have a problem with this as well because of my crazy schedule and all of the stuff I have my hands in. I have also had a problem with the realization that God wants to really be with me one on one. Jesus mirrored this in his life. I think of how He often would go to be alone with the Father. Time after time he would seperate himself from the disciples to go and commune with God. I have been trying to keep that in mind daily. For a while now I have commutted to work on a skateboard or a bicycle which only takes a few minutes but lately due to the weather I have just been walking. It seems like a simple thing but walking takes more time. In that short walk to the office I have just been talking to God, asking Him to walk with me, and be with me. It has been so great. I have also changed my route delibrately to avoid running into people (Statesville is a small town and I know everyone and get stopped often). At first I thought I was being anti-social but then I realized God was saying “Dude, just talk to me right now!” (He probably didn’t say Dude but you know what i mean).
    I know it’s a small thing but that time is so satisfying that now I long for more time with HIM alone.
    Thanks for the blog!

  • Kelli March 19, 2009  

    Aha….I can totally understand feeling guilty. Being a wife and mom, I often feel guilty when Im sitting at a coffee shop while my husbands at work, my son is at my in laws and I should be doing laundry or cleaning. I can imagine with the business of your schedule its even more hectic. But it is in the quiet moments that Im reminding of simple things that I just cant seem to grab hold to when Im so busy doing for everyone else. I think as women its our nature to “take care” of things or even stay busy, especially when we are leaders. But we are deserving of quiet time too.