The practice of Solitude is…
- A. Not possible
- B. Scary
- C. Inviting
- D. All of the Above
In the busy-ness of life right now, this is the episode for you. Josh and Kit are exploring how the practice of hitting pause is vital to living your life. We’re going to define the spiritual discipline of Solitude and ways you can move towards it.
We hope you’ll understand how to set realistic expectations for yourself so you can begin where you are with what you have.
Rather than wait until you’ve got it all together; show up with what you’ve got.
God, ever-present and always patient, is waiting in the stillness as you take this step towards “Becoming Whole.”
Solitude is a meaningful time, an intimate time to be honest and vulnerable with yourself and with God about the things that are going on in your life.
It is an intentional way to move away from the front lines of life and to just be with God.
It is a comfort. It is a power. It is learning how to be present with yourself and with God.
Remember, the way you practice Solitude is between you and God. Pick a time of day, an amount of time and a place that work for you. Release expectations of how it should feel and just invite God in.
Simple Invitational Prayer: “Come Lord Jesus” Revelation 22:20
“In one of the very earliest training workshops led by Father Thomas Keating himself, a nun tried out her first twenty-minute taste of Centering Prayer and then lamented, ‘Oh, Father Thomas, I’m such a failure at this prayer. In twenty minutes I’ve had ten thousand thoughts!’
“How lovely,” responded Keating, without missing a beat. “Ten thousand opportunities to return to God.”
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
So we are neck deep in this season of COVID, where so many of us are separated from each other. Even when we are getting together, we are socially distanced. Many of us are in places that require that we wear masks. There’s so much separation. So the topic that we’re going to dive into today might feel ironic. But our hope is that really it is a while the image that God gave us as we prayed is a flare thrown into the darkness is a life saving component, something Jesus wants to give us in this hour. And it certainly pertains to to growing in sexual and relational wholeness as well. So we’re talking about solitude. kit. What, what are we talking about solitude for years is coming from
just as you said, In the beginning, you know, we’re all really as much as ever caught up in a very tension filled, uncertain time. And, and even though there are opportunities to slow down many of us haven’t, we’re still kind of busy, frantic, trying to figure life out. And solitude is a powerful, powerful reality that God has for us. And it is a an intentional way to move away from the frontlines of life, and to just be with God. And, you know, that’s easy for us to say, we can talk about it very matter of factly. But the reality is that it’s very powerful, and very meaningful and purposeful, and deep. And so we want to kind of unpack that today. You know, what does that mean? How do we do this? How do we get underneath just the the practice of it and actually understand what God wants for us in it.
Now, what I think about men and women who are journeying through a difficult time, so whether it’s just the the crisis of COVID, whether it’s, you know, I’m wrestling with a pornography addiction, or my girlfriend and I are my boyfriend, and I keep slipping sexually, or my marriage is blowing up, because I did not know that my spouse had been doing this. And it’s changed my perspective on what my life has been, or I just learned from the son or daughter that they are wrestling with something or embracing sexual identity or sexual behaviors that i i think they are made, they’re not made for. So all of that, I think that often our knee jerk response is almost like a firefighter, we want to run into the, into the danger, you want to run into the fire, let me just get in there and fix it somehow. Or our conversely to that our our knee jerk reaction might be I just want to get away from it. I want to numb out I don’t want to think about it, I need to escape this somehow. And I think we go to God, with those two postures one of those two postures like, Lord, get me out of here, or, Lord, give me strength to fix this. Now, solitude feels like a very different route. It just feels like a different kind of space, a different kind of posture. And frankly, when I think about those kinds of scenarios, I just framed up, I think sitting in solitude, or walking in solitude, or taking time for solitude. And I think I usually, I usually equate silence in there. I don’t know if we need to do that or not. But it almost feels like a, like an extra painful thing to do an extra difficult thing to do. So. What do you mean by solitude kit? When we talk about the spiritual discipline of solitude? How do we how do we even enter into it with all the business inside and outside of life?
Well, I I really appreciate that you talked about the pain and, you know, the ways that we get caught up in either pain from what other people are doing, or pain from our own choices, you know, the sin in our own lives. And I’m just really glad you brought that up, because I don’t think we think about solitude, necessarily as a intervention for that, but it absolutely does. You know, it absolutely is, it is a comfort, it is a power. It is learning how to be present with yourself and with God. And, and so, you learn to bring to slow down long enough to bring all that is true. Instead of trying to avoid it, minimize it, deny it, fix it, you know, you really are bringing what’s true and real to yourself and to God so that so that something can happen in a way that’s up to God and that he wants to partner with you in. So solitude is, is a is a meaningful time, an intimate time. To be honest and vulnerable with yourself and with God about the things that are going on in your life.
So say more about that. I mean, let me actually, okay, so this I’m assuming, again, I, when I think about solitude, I think I’ve gone to a solitary place, to pray, to, to sit, or to walk quietly, or to to be not just by myself, even though we’re calling a solitude, it’s spiritual disciplines called solitude, there’s an understanding in solitude in the solitary places that that God is with us. So, given given that, and if you want to, you know, flesh that out more, please feel free to but given that, like, I know that the resistance in me says, There’s no way I can do that when life is so crazy. And I don’t even mean just busy, although that’s certainly component. But like, when my inner world is so crazy, going somewhere alone, can feel like I am shirking responsibility, it can feel it can even feel like because it’s not just, it’s not just what’s happening outwardly, it’s also I’m so busy inwardly that solitude sometimes can just almost feel like I’m opening myself up to be kind of pummeled by the the inner landscape, my thoughts or my feelings, or my anxieties, or my angers or my wounds. So what do I do with those things? in solitude?
Yeah, you’re right, it can feel weak, it can feel ineffective, it can feel very foreign, even boring, like what’s happening, nothing’s happening here. Because we’re accomplishment oriented. We’re result oriented, you know. And so part of it is just allowing yourself to begin where you are, and to, sometimes five minutes of silence in solitude, with God will feel like a wrestling match, it will feel like it takes forever and that you stink at it. But you have to start somewhere. And so, you know, oftentimes, it’s it’s starting with a place of knowing this is hard for me, and choosing to think, Okay, I think that I need something other than what’s going on in my life right now. I trust that being with God is a really important thing. And so I’m going to set aside some time, and I’m going to enter into silence, I’m going to enter into conversation, talking with God listening to God just being present for five minutes. And I’m going to pay attention to what happens and I’m going to take it to God, my frustration, my you know, my monkey mind. And it’s just starting where we are, and then continuing to go back to it because we are all wound up and it is going to take time to unwind to be able to experience it in the way that God intended it.
So I think what’s happening for me, as I hear you say that is it, I’m realizing that part of my part of that tension that I was describing, even with some of where the question came from, was from a was from an unrealistic expectation, kind of a demand upon myself, that I be able to be inwardly still, when I’m not inwardly still. And what I hear you saying is, that that may come that may be a goal. But, but solitude is actually can actually be a space to bring whatever. And so if I’m not inwardly, still, instead of distracting myself from that, instead of avoiding that reality, solitude is a place to face that reality and to bring it to the Lord, I am not still I cannot sit still, my brain is racing about this. Or that or the other thing, my does that resonate with what you’re saying? Yeah, absolutely.
And in fact, I think, Josh, that there is a misunderstanding that we think, Oh, you know, when we enter into solitude, prayer, centering prayer, Christian meditation, that that our mind is going to calm down and obey and be quiet. That’s not what the mind does. And so instead of being like, I’m going to attain this thing. Really, the reality is, too, your what you’re really wanting to do in solitude or centering prayer is just to be with God, with wherever you are, and whatever’s going on. And so when your mind is busy, and when a thought comes in, you know, you just Thomas Keating says something beautiful. It’s like when that happens, don’t shame yourself, and try to tame your mind. Just go Oh, there it is. There’s an interruption. Okay, another opportunity to return to God. And so you know, it can be he says, 10,000 opportunities to return to God. So it’s not about I’m going to nail this thing. I’m going to quiet my mind. I’m going to accomplish this. It’s I’m going to be with God. My mind is going to be, you know, just going to do what my mind does. And I’m going to continue Can you to just come back to God and be with him? in whatever way it looks like that for me today? Does that make sense?
Yeah, I mean, in my brain also goes to thinking about sexual temptation, and how how, how often when people are trying to do sexual temptation, what they’re doing is, they’re, they’re trying to, you know, shove a monkey in a cage, they’re trying to, you know, run out of the room and shut it in there. So it stays in there. And we end up living this kind of cosmic life with God where, you know, we, you Sorry, sorry about that. And you almost think about like the loving grandfather, grandparent who comes over to your house, your kids are, and you know, that they’re maybe a little wealthier, a little more upright, and, and, and polished toward your house. And your kids are rambunctious and jumping all over the place, and maybe even you know, crawling over the back of the couch, or they’re trying to sit, and you can feel the sense of like, hold on, let me let me get them out of the room. And God’s not a, you know, an uptight grandparent, he’s, he, I think, what you’re, I almost get what you’re describing, like, instead of trying to hide that our kids rambunctious, we’ve been where we are being with God, with rambunctiousness and letting God interact with us where we are, yeah. Then hopefully to pull the the rambunctious kid in us the lustful part of us the anxious part of us, for us to learn to, to let that that little part of us sit in his lap behold, by his arms, hear his voice. Yeah, we can become more still.
Yeah, in fact, the picture that came to me when you would describe when you first started saying a grandfather or grandmother, I thought, Oh, that’s the perfect picture. You know, the the really good, you know, God is really the good, perfect father, the good perfect mother, or grandmother or grandfather. And so, when you imagine that there’s this patient, welcoming, you sit down, let’s get comfortable. You know, let me hold your hand. Would you like a cup of tea? Tell me about it. Tell me about every little thing. I have all the time in the world, to listen to what’s going on with you. That’s really the posture of God.
We, one of my seminar class, I’ve learned a new word I did not know before, it’s it’s a thing of pronouncing correctly. It’s called it’s an attribute of God called his Assa T. And what it means is that is that God needs for nothing, he is absolutely content satisfied, fulfilled within himself, he is joyous and happy. He did not make us because he was lonely. He does not call us to be part of his kingdom, because he needs something from us or demands something from us. We cannot take away from his fullness. And I think sometimes when I come to his presence, there’s still this expectation that I’m going to bug him, you know, somehow, what’s happening in me is gonna is going to disrupt his completeness, as opposed to and what I think the invitation I’m sensing the Holy Spirit’s we’re talking is, as opposed to know you, my fullness is here for you. And and you come into with all your stuff, come into my fullness, come into my joy come into my peace. kit, we only have a minute or two more. I know you’ve got more to say about this. But I want to ask a very specific question. Because I also know that for for many of us are experienced when we try to take five minutes in solitude or 10 minutes or 15 minutes, or whatever it is 30 seconds if that’s something that we feel you having today is to get up and leave and feel like Well, that didn’t work. Yeah. respond to that a little bit.
Yeah, I think because we’re so results oriented, you know, we do this, and then, you know, it results in this. And so we expect that from solitude, when really solitude is a relationship. You know, when we sit down and have one conversation with our child or a friend or, or a spouse, you know, there’s always this revelation after like, Oh, my gosh, you know, that was an incredible conversation. And so we’re building intimacy with God. And we’re, we’re, we’re not looking at it, to raid it, to grade it, or just in it, to enjoy it, appreciate it. And what’s interesting is that, over time, when you spend that kind of time with God, and he begins to, you know, touch you in places tell you about who you really are. These things begin to influence your life. You know, how you think about yourself, how you think about others, in subtle ways. It’s not a dramatic rah, rah, you know, kind of thing, but it is a just like, the spiritual journey is Beautiful, slow process of growing. Hmm.
It sounds like faith, stepping into a moment of faith to stand up from a time that maybe my mind flooded everywhere. And I didn’t seem to be able to focus and I didn’t sense God’s presence. But I’ve just entered into his eye or taken a moment to sit with him this full, benevolent, fully sufficient, infinite God, who loves me and I can trust that as I stand up something in some small or big or yet invisible way, something has has happened, something has changed. And if nothing else have to imagine that, that he’s he’s simply glad that you came.
And solitude doesn’t have to be sitting. It can be walking, it can be running. It can be, you know, anywhere, anytime, you know, sometimes you can choose a really favorite place to be, whether it’s a chair or your bed or outside somewhere. But you know, there’s a lot of freedom to it. Lots of freedom. So don’t feel like oh, it needs to look like this. And I need to do it like somebody else. Like, be creative. Where do you like to be? What do you like to do? Invite God into it? And just have it be time for the two of you.
Oh, but Kate, would you close this in a word of prayer? Yeah.
We’re just talking about this. The idea of being away with you. It is so it’s so inviting and so comforting. And yet I also know that it can feel foreign, and it can feel just, like just there’s an uncertainty about about what that’s going to be like and how to do it. So Lord, I just pray for anyone who’s listening who’s feeling that way that that they would just be willing to take a step and did not have it be so full of expectation as much as just be present. In that moment, or in those five minutes, just be present. And just be aware of the fact that this is a moment in time when God is there with you and just see what happens. And then we know that you are so faithful. I help us to remember that help us to trust that even more today. In Jesus name, amen.
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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