My interest in the discipline of solitude was sparked by a book called Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen. The worship intensive group that I am a part of was asked to read it before attending the worship intensive at Grace Fellowship. To be honest, I had a really hard time getting through the book because the language Nouwen uses is odd, the concepts tend to feel abstract, and you must have some context of the seasons [in life] he is speaking about to really grasp the ideas. I have done some more study and, although I am simply a student of the concept of solitude, I finally feel as though I am beginning to understand it.
Here’s a few of bullet points I’ve learned along the way:
- Solitude is, first and foremost, a time to meet with God alone. It is a time to rest with a strong awareness of the presence of our Father and Creator.
- It is a place where we can allow distractions such as work, entertainment and busy thoughts to fall away. This allows us to confront the loneliness, thoughts, and attitudes that we typically run from. This is where solitude becomes “a furnace of transformation.”
- Solitude is not “alone time,” or a time to “recharge our batteries.” It is a place where we can tear down our false self and fake support systems to see ourselves for who we really are: weak, deprived, dependent, and needy.
- Solitude is a place where God reveals to us how much he has forgiven us by showing us our deepest sins. When we become so aware of our own iniquity that it allows us to become compassionate ministers.
- Solitude will not happen on it’s own nor can it be forced into 20 minute devotionals. Our hurried, busy lives are the enemy to communing with the Father and it takes practice, patience, and the creation of space/margins in our schedules to simply “be” with Him.
- Solitude is desert place where we die [to entitlement, hostility, self-rightousness, etc] to emerge refreshed, transformed, and empowered by God to be loving examples of Him.