Saturday, March 13, 2010

Turn Loneliness into Solitude

Every Saturday will be devoted to setting time aside for rest and seeking God.

There are several times in the gospels when Jesus separated himself from the disciples and/or the crowds. I’ll list the references below, but the gist of it is this: “Jesus went to a lonely place, a place of solitude.”

I’ve learned from my friend, Cindy Steffen, who provides a retreat house for the purpose of creating a natural setting for solitude, that scientific research opens a favorable view of being alone. According to psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, “Solitude is an essential experience for the mind to organize its own processes and create an internal state of resonance.”

This lonely time of widowhood in your life is OK. And if Dr. Siegel is right, it's a valuable and necessary recovery time. It’s uncomfortable—more so for some personality types than for others—but it won’t last forever.

It’s not by choice. You didn’t choose to be alone, to be widowed. But God allowed it, so think of the loneliness as a cocoon. It’s a time for your soul to heal: to restructure itself and learn to resonate as your true, individual self emerges. God is turning you into a new creature—as II Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Women’s magazines are always telling us to “take time for yourself.” Now that you finally have all this time for yourself, what are some healthy things you can do? The healthiest thing is to do as Jesus did—enter your lonely place willingly—“Jesus went.”

The following references are from the New International Version. I also like the New American Version. It uses the word “lonely” where the NIV uses “solitary.”

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary/lonely place, where he prayed.

Matthew 14:13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary/lonely place.

Mark 6:31, 32 (same incident as Matthew 14:13 with a little more detail) . . . He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary/lonely place.

Luke 4:42 At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary/lonely place.

Print this off and underline the verbs (action words) in these verses. Which actions do you need to integrate into your own solitary or lonely place? Pray? Rest? Don’t wait for tomorrow, start right now. Blessings will follow.

And now I’m going off to do the same. I hope you’ll check back again on Monday.

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