In Silence and Solitude

Kim W Freeman   |   October 30, 2018 

When writing a post about solitude and silence, don’t be surprised if life throws a number of roadblocks in your way, and the deadline for submission flies past you. In fact, were I not one of the founders of this blog I’m sure the editorial team would have given me the boot long before now. It is grace that they have not.

The reasons for this delinquency, though not very good ones, are due to the utter lack of solitude and silence in my current stage of life. An irony not lost on me.

In this season the push and pull to be everything to everyone in my family is a reality that I’m currently working through. The needs are many, but the hands to meet them are two. I am a chauffeur, chef, referee, event planner, and disciple-maker for five very different children who are all in different seasons of life. It is a joy, but it is also exhausting at times. None-the-less, the reality of my life season is not lost on the Lord. He ordained this very time in my life and has much for me to learn if I chose to lean into Him.

I’m an introvert, so I have no problem with being alone and quietness, but for the past two months if I desire silence and solitude, I must haul myself out of bed at 5:45 a.m. to secure it or it doesn’t happen. And on mornings when I do manage to wake up early and crawl from bed before the kids wake I am always grateful I didn’t hit the snooze button, but it is definitely a day-to-day discipline for me.

So, what does the discipline of Silence and Solitude look like?

Sitting in silence, completely alone without distraction, can itself be distracting. I live in a culture that values “doing” over “being” most of the time. And on the surface, sitting in silence can look a great deal like doing nothing, which makes many people uncomfortable. For some it is nearly impossible to get to a place where phones, screens, and people can’t interrupt you for at least an hour.

But if I want to draw closer to the Lord and know who I am in Him, I have to give Him the space to speak into my life. It’s a discipline modelled by Jesus time and time again. He went away, alone, to pray all throughout His ministry (Mark 6:31-32; Luke 6:12; Matthew 14:13). He deeply loved people and spent time among the masses, but it was in the moments alone with the Father where He drew strength. He needed this space to recharge, and so do we.

My mother has been visiting during what has been a full week of appointments, a traveling husband, and non-stop activity in our house of seven. It’s now Saturday morning and I’m a bundle of emotions and what is spilling out onto my family is anything but kindness, compassion, and wisdom. When I’m worn thin, I don’t process life through a filter of gratefulness and joy, and the contact burns sting others when my soul is running on empty.

I didn’t know that mothers could still send their kids to their rooms (in my own house!), but that’s exactly what she did. One hour of quiet. One hour to sit and be still, read, and pray. No activity, no demands, just Jesus.

But as I sit and read my Bible and pray through the wrinkles on my heart, I find there is more hidden in there than I realised. A mixture of petition and praise flows out, and even thoughts that were buried too deeply for immediate notice bubble up without the distractions to interfere. I’m reminded again that these moments of silence are a much-needed rhythm in my hectic life.

It is good and necessary to pause and to stop all the “doing” that most of us engage in during our waking hours. Silence and solitude make us adjust our focus so we remember that we are called to “be” before we can “do.”

Withdrawing intentionally for a time has been essential in giving my soul the space it needs to process the deep things of the heart. It is a piece of a much larger puzzle that is part of the process of sanctification in the life of the believer. And just like all other pieces, silence and solitude has its time and place and we have to be cautious to neither have too much nor too little.

Get Still

If sitting for periods of time in quiet make you uncomfortable, then starting small is a good way to ease into establishing a new rhythm of life that includes this discipline. Leave your phone behind and find a cozy coffee shop, take a walk, or simply lock the door to your bedroom and declare the next hour to be completely undisturbed. Disconnect from anything that will distract or demand something from you and use a journal along with your Bible to record thoughts and impressions as you read scripture.

Ignore the notion that time to yourself is frivolous and selfish. I know I’m a much better human when I make myself a priority at times. I’m a mom of five and it’s easy for me to feel that I am always needed and that I can’t take a break. But I can only go so long like this until my edges begin to fray—and no one likes mom when she’s exhausted, frazzled, and depleted.

The discipline of silence and solitude is a gift to our hearts that we need to unwrap more frequently because it paves the way for us to know Him more deeply and therefore we are able to learn more about who He has created us to be.

 

Photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash

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Kim W Freeman is the wearer of many hats: a wife to Jon, mother of five, founder of IndiAanya, artist and writer. She has a heart to see women grow in their faith and do life together in authentic community. Her perfect day would include cinnamon cappuccino, scones, rainy weather and an inspiring conversation. She haphazardly blogs over at her own place about life, art and spiritual formation at kwfreeman.com. She and her crew live in Charlotte, NC.

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