Monday, February 6, 2012

Quietly still

Solitude -a state of social isolation; the quality or state of being alone or remote from society.

Ahhh!  Doesn't that sound like Heaven?  I haven't been alone for as long as I can remember.  The closest thing to "alone" that I've become was when I lived in my first apartment.  I was in college but didn't have any friends to speak of.  There were no cell phones then (gosh, I sound old!), I didn't have a computer and really no one to call and chit chat with (except my family).  I felt very lonely during that time.  But when I met my husband, we got married, had kids, I haven't been alone ever since.  When I say "alone" I mean ALONE.  No outside influences.  Sure you can be alone when your kids go off to school and there's no one else in the house but you, but sitting on the computer and reading email, updating Facebook statuses, talking on the phone and texting friends is not "alone".  Being alone is being in a place of solitude.

Recently, I've noticed how much I've been weighed down with not be able to be alone.  I put the girls to bed anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30, sometimes 10:00.  By that time, I'm so exhausted, I can hardly make it through a half-hour sitcom before I pass out on the couch.  When I make it to bed, I'm still not alone.  One of the girls ends up at my bedside wanting to sleep in our bed.  Once I send that child back to their own bed, the next one comes in.  In the past few weeks, I've been setting my alarm to wake up at 6:30am.  I don't normally wake up my oldest until 7:30 to get ready for school.  That one hour in the morning gives me a chance to wake up on my own, make coffee and drink it in peace before my day begins.  Sometimes, my 4-year-old wakes up the same time my alarm goes off and she is such a morning person, she won't go back to sleep.  My day begins with her before my feet hit the floor.

I am, by all means not complaining about the lack of aloneness I get.  I dreamed about being a stay-at-home mom and many days are very hard days, but I wouldn't change it for the world.  What I am trying to get across is my great need to be alone with God.  I've been taught at a very young age to say my prayers, ask God for help, go to church, etc etc.  But I was never really taught to be quiet and still and 'listen' for God, really listen.  I may have tried it a time or two, but if there was no real voice to hear from, it didn't mean anything to me. 

So getting up at 6:30am did not prove to be the easiest thing to do.  I would sneak downstairs, get my Bible and cup of coffee and curl up on the couch.  I'll say a morning prayer, ask God for guidance and safety and begin reading.  Sometimes I get a whole hour to myself, sometimes I only get 15 minutes.  No matter how much time I get, I'm grateful.  On those mornings when it's really hard to wake up, I think about those mornings where my day begins before I have a chance to swing my feet out of the bed.  I find myself to be more grumpy and irritable with the kids.  On the days I get some alone time with God, I'm a happier person, more patient and more focused.

Being in a place of solitude takes practice.  The first couple of weeks when I curled up on the couch and started to read, my mind wandered to everywhere but where I wanted it to be.  My eyes would sneak off to stare at the ipad wanting to play the games, my mind wandered to the computer wanting to get work done, my heart wandered to guilty feelings wanting to get something else done while the kids were sleeping.  After a couple of weeks, I started to get pretty good at reading and focusing on learning something so early in the morning.  I eventually forgot about the work, games and chores I wanted or needed to do during my morning time.

Does God really "speak" to me when I'm in a place of solitude? No, but I did come up with this new blog theme while I was sitting quietly still, I have more patience with the kids, I'm more focus and have a healthier outlook on life.  God wants to help us with whatever journey we're facing.  And in order to receive help when we ask for it, we have to listen and the best way to listen is to sit quietly still.

John  15:5

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

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