I’m writing this on the morning of the 20th of January… fun fact: this is the first time I’ve been completely alone this year. Every moment of this year I’ve had family, friends or colleagues around. As I write that, I realise just how blessed I am to have people to do life with. I’m always very aware over December, particularly, how many lonely people are around us.
But there is something profound and sobering about “aloneness”. While part of my philosophy on life is that we were created for community, I also know that the only way we will truly become who we are meant to be is to take these moments to be alone. This is why:
1. God is uniquely revealed in the quiet
Healthy Christians experience the presence of God in a variety of ways. Some are deeply moved by corporate worship (read, me), while others experience the presence of God through liturgy. Some find their experience of God in the preaching of His Word, while others enjoy Life Groups (or whatever your particular church calls them). All of those are beautiful expressions of the presence of God that lead us from one place to another in our knowledge of God. However, there are things that happen between us and God when we are alone that are unique to our journey with Him.
God says "be still and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10) because in the quietness, the aloneness, He reveals a part of His character to us that we need at that moment. Click To Tweet
There’s a reason Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God”. God knows that in the stillness, the quietness, the aloneness – He reveals a part of His character to us that we need at that moment. It’s not better or worse than the experience of God in other times of our lives, but it is unique.
2. We are forced to confront our reality
I read a really good article by Carey Nieuwhof where he addresses the tendency in culture today to make everything a big deal. When that happens, when we focus on the latest news story, it becomes easier for us to tune out our own reality and pursue the latest and greatest crisis in the world.
Indulge me as I give you this example: I suspect very few people, especially younger people, have taken the time to do their own research about climate change. Yet, students are walking out of school to protest and bring awareness to a phenomena that they, themselves, likely have very little awareness of.
I think this is why we do it: As long as I’m protesting climate change, or boycotting Starbucks because of plastic straws, or filming YouTube videos about Trump I don’t have to confront my own insecurity, doubt, fears, brokenness or difficulty. Noise and busyness have offered an escape from our existential reality. When we are finally forced to be alone, depression gets its grip on us because we are suddenly overwhelmed by our own story.
I’m sure you know the IT Joke: You sit on a call center line for 25 minutes to get hold of an IT “expert” only to be asked, “have you switched it off and on again?”.
There’s a reason these IT types ask that question: Sometimes all you need is a hard reset. Not a quick Macbook “sleep mode” , or iPhone “DND mode”, but an actual shut down, power off, no lights hard reset.
People, noise, busyness, chaos, constant news cycles, activity and all the things we face during the course of the day does a lot to rob us of something God promised us:
…. God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Yeshua”Phil 4:7
A lack of peace distorts our thoughts and emotions. Aloneness facilitates a peace that brings clarity and security (‘will guard’) to our thoughts and emotions.
So, do it. Plan some time to be alone. Go sit in a park and read a book; send your family on a movie date while you sit at home on the couch; or go for a walk. You’ll be glad you did!