The past few weeks of summer our home has been a revolving door. And it’s been wonderful. In fact, I prayed for it. I believe God created us for community and making space for people to come together and love each other is one of my greatest joys. I just don’t need it. At least not for the same reasons I once did.
During the COVID 19 crisis we were forced to be alone. This time staying at home and many unable to see family and friends was particularly painful. This past year I actually considered it one of my greatest accomplishments that I was able to sit with myself so many days and nights in a row. Historically, I have viewed time alone as bad. But in the past couple of years and through the challenging isolation of the pandemic, I now know the benefits of being able to actually embrace solitude. In these times, I have faced some of my giants that historically had me afraid to sit alone.
I’m not advocating we return to the way of 2020. I love the chatter of all the people in my backyard and the laughter from all ages as they speed down our pool slide. I just don’t need it for the validation it once provided. Having a full house was one of the ways I used to avoid my loneliness. It made me feel valuable if people showed up. I needed a big room packed full of people to get the “ok” on what I was doing or be convinced that what I was planning was worthy. Of course there are times when you should ask for wise council and having a full house can be exactly what the heart needs. I just want to offer three benefits of solitude from a girl who has learned what she brings to the table and is no longer afraid to eat alone.
1. You’ll recharge, restore and refresh.
When the room is full, you find yourself reading it. You expend a ton of energy feeling the emotions of others, expending your own and riding the wave of highs and lows of human interaction. It’s good to disconnect and recharge from constant socialization. In those moments alone, you can reflect more. This gives you time to process your own emotions. Journal out your own thoughts and silence some surrounding noise to hear the voice of God for your soul. When you are surrounded by others all the time, you can find yourself catering to their expectation and needs which can potentially dictate yours—so much so that you lose touch with what it is you actually desire. Sitting in a space alone can give you a deeper understanding of your identity in Christ, without all the other opinions attached, and you will find a refreshed perspective about the life you were born to live.
2. You’ll discover your desires.
In the company of other people it is common to compromise. Of course working together and self sacrifice is good. But I’m referring more to “group think.” When you begin to lose sight of what you value, who you are and begin to be swayed toward what “they” think you should be, it’s time to get alone. You begin to enjoy the time alone once you realize that doing so gives you the freedom to explore what you are passionate about and the plan God has just for you. We are better together, but you are also uniquely designed to walk the path specifically designed for the one and only YOU.
3. You’ll enjoy your relationships even more. (AND be in the right ones.)
When you can get to a place where you are enjoying being alone and have made space for consistent time with God, that will increase your confidence. There is an assurance that comes from time spent alone with Him that softens the anxiety or burning desire for constant company because of discomfort in being by yourself. You’ll grow in the break of trying to keep others happy or placating to the unhealthy and unspoken expectations. You’ll begin to see clearly about the relationships that are toxic and the ones that make you better. You will start to choose those who are like hearted and enjoy the moments with other people even more.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31
Time spent alone can make room for God to speak worth, value and identity into your heart. These are the moments that you can find a love for the person God created when He made you. And when we love ourselves we begin to love others better. This cultivates a great appreciation for all the great things that come from your relationships with other people, often which you were not able to see before.