Solitude

I would consider myself a homebody. I like to be home, I like to be by myself at home, I like to do things at home. Home is where I know I can feel comfortable regardless of the situation. But is being alone the same as solitude? I would like to say both yes and no. I’ve been alone in solitude and have felt perfectly comfortable hundreds of times, I personally just really like to spend time by myself! I love reading and running and driving alone, and these are times I can pray and refresh and enjoy my own company. Solitude can easily be refreshing or discouraging depending on the surrounding circumstances. Was the sheer quantity of the solitude that we had to bear last year healthy? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on who you ask and how they may have spent that time. Although I am a self-proclaimed ambivert (someone with introverted and extroverted tendencies), I got extremely sick of being by myself most days, even though there wasn’t much I could safely do outside of my house. Sure, I could have Zoomed or Facetimed my friends and my community, but I truly didn’t have the energy to even attempt that. In this I would describe an unhealthy solitude; weariness, sadness, and bleakness pervading my thoughts and actions. The news was bleak, school was bleak, and none of my school friends at the time really lived in my area. A year later, my circumstances have changed tremendously; I now live with four other incredible girls and solitude is less likely to be found for me more than ever in a house of five. But that’s not in a bad way, it means I can appreciate in greater measure the moments and time I have alone that much more, and the sweet time I spend with my roommates and friends after that is even better as a result.

Following that, I think Jesus calls us to be for others and to put others before ourselves, but he doesn’t say to make every action for others if it results in emptiness and weariness on our end. The result of putting others in front of us should be fulfilling, not draining. He was frequently traveling and teaching with the disciples and spent a grand majority of His adult life with them. Even Jesus had to take moments to Himself sometimes; this is depicted when He retires to the Garden of Gethsemane with the apostles and then moves away from them several times to pray, this in Mark 14:36-40 on the eve of His crucifixion. There are some things we must do alone, as Jesus needed to pray alone but He wasn’t far from His community of people; they were just beyond waiting for Him. He was considering the future that awaited Him and at the same time was contemplating how this event would reflect on the Kingdom, the community of believers for the future after this moment. Even in this, Jesus was thinking about how best to serve the Lord even at the cost of His own life, as painful and demeaning as this type of punishment denoted. He bore the sin and shame so that we may live, and chances are you already know that, but a refresher never hurt anybody! This simple fact is the basis of why we are called to be servants; to serve our community and expand the kingdom wherever we go, as fishers of men.

A slight shift here, but I attended North Point Community Church growing up and one sermon stuck with me more than many others; and it essentially was how Christ-followers live differently and that when we interact with others we want them to ask, “What is different about them?” That in our dealings with others we display the love and life the Lord has given us and that Jesus sacrificed for us to the fullest extent that we are able. A true example of being in the world but not of it. Our communities should be for accountability and support in this endeavor, so that we are not alone in our lives trying to shoulder this task, but that we remain rooted in our knowledge of what we have been given and the price that has been paid so that we may shine this love on others. Though not simply living in a bubble where everyone is a believer and it’s easy to not live like that, especially where others already know the Lord, but showing love to a community where you live, where you attend school, where you go to church, your presence on social media, your clubs and classrooms. Community is much more than the people you spend time with, (though those people impact your life so much more than we think), but having other Christ-followers in your life for support and accountability is only half the battle, the other half is actually living it out. It’s a choice we must consciously make daily, “a long obedience in the same direction,” is my favorite way that I have heard it described from Pastor John Raymond at Grace Athens. Obediently choosing to follow the Lord every day and exemplifying His kingdom in both the times alone and the times spent in community.
 
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you found some encouragement today!

Author | Sidney Counsell

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