The Gift of Static
It's no surprise that introverts retreat into themselves to handle life's tricky moments. But if we're not careful, we can settle in and hibernate there rather than focus on a healthy period of healing solitude.
Sometimes I trick myself into believing that solitude is achieved through hours of writing, editing and computer work or binge watching television. But in reality, that only fills my mind with noise so I can't focus on the conflict waging war inside me.
Maybe it's a family issue that's altered lives, or a great disappointment that has adjusted our perspectives, a tragedy that has shattered any sense of purpose, or an unresolved sin that boils but never erupts.
Any of these situations have the power to take root and fester if we don't follow the example of Jesus and turn to the Father in our darkest hours.
When Jesus was within hours of his capture, he retreated to the precious covering of prayer.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will."
I imagine the devastation of Judas' betrayal played out and the impending betrayal of one of his closest friends and disciples, made His heart heavy, not to mention the unbearable physical pain and torture he knew was forthcoming.
In His darkest hour, he didn't take a long walk, get drunk with his buddies, or binge-watch street performers. He didn't fill His mind with to-do lists or work crazy hours.
Leaving his best friends behind, in His darkest hours, He retreated to absolute solitude. And then invited the One who could provide eternal strength and comfort for the nurturing of His soul.
In one of my darkest seasons, I filled my life with busyness to drown out noise that permeated my every waking moment. It was a long season of healing, self-doubt, and pile upon pile of new trials. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.
So, I worked long hours, busied myself with senseless projects at home, and filled the calendar. I continued my bible study and devotions, but I did not allow myself room for quiet. I did not listen.
Then, one day, on the way home from a particularly frustrating day at work, I changed the dial away from my Christian Radio station and tried to find songs that matched my mood. I was looking for thrash metal or a sad country song. Either would suffice.
But as I moved away from the station, everything was static. Station after station was static, mile after mile. I tried to go back to the Christian Radio station but it was now static.
Frustrated, I punched the power button and sat in silence. Within minutes, tears formed as I no longer had an escape from my thoughts.
Everything was so close to the surface, that the slightest bit of silence sent me over the edge. I cried out to God and ripped open the rawest pieces of my heart for Him to see.
Of course, He knew it was there all along, and I realized the pain and torment I'd been feeling for weeks was self-inflicted stubbornness because I knew better. All I needed to do was turn to Him. Choosing not to, broke my heart. I can only imagine what it did to His.
It made me realize that if my life was in a dark place, it's wasn't because I couldn't find the light; I was blocking it.
But our God is a precious and merciful God and His promises wrap us in love:
Isaiah 26:3 "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you." (ESV)
1 John 4:14 "You have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." (NIV)
Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you, will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (NKJV)
We don't just need time alone, we need time and quiet to to listen to our Father in our solitude, be convicted and seek forgiveness, open our hearts and lives to His light and goodness, and praise Him for His grace and mercy.
Only then, can we be a light for others in a way that God has called us.
What vices do you turn to in times of crisis? What avoidance games do you play? Do you allow yourself time to process and listen after your daily bible study or devotion time?