I spend a lot of time by myself. More time, I think, than most people can deal with. More time, I admit, than even I can deal with. But, I’m dealing. I’m smiling. I’m waiting. I’m passing the hours. I’m serving my time in solitude.
The thing I can’t figure out, however, is why I like it so very much. It doesn’t make sense because in moments of weakness, I sometimes fear that my social skills are breaking down into little pieces. I imagine them, one by every last one, slipping my from my grasp. I panic. I complain. I wish I had somewhere to go…someone with whom I could drink coffee.
But that doesn’t happen. So, I stare out the window. I read a book. I listen to music. I sit at the piano. I talk to the dog. Toss another sunflower seed in the gerbils’ cage. Another hour passes. And finally, I survive another day.
Scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I struggle to stifle that old familiar sting of jealousy which rises up inside me when I see endless pictures of everyone hugging their friends. Solitude is more difficult when others seem to be fleeing from it.
Let’s be clear: This isn’t a blog post about how I don’t have friends. Trust me, I have friends. I’m very blessed with people who love me, but most of them don’t live in Greentown, Indiana. Most of them are busy. Most of them have other friends. Most of them aren’t serving their time right now. Don’t misunderstand. This isn’t me whining, complaining, stressing, crying, etc.. I’m just putting words to my reality. I’m past lamenting the long days I spend at home alone. I’m past worrying that it will never end. Sure, it’s not a gal’s favorite way to spend her time, but it will end.
And despite all the times I just want to throw my hands in the air, tilt my head back, and scream, “When will this end!?”….despite the occasional dreariness of it all…despite the months and months until the fall semester starts….despite it all, as my life continues to unfold into these solitary routines, I remember why, to me, being alone is so irresistible.
Solitude is quiet. The noise of ignorant people, useless distractions, and endless consumerism is not welcome here. When I’m alone, I can hear myself breathe. I can hear my heart thumping in my chest. And I can hear my singing voice bounce off the walls when I sit at the piano. These are the sounds that remind me I’m alive–and that all my hopes and dreams are as well. How ironic that this message is loud and clear when everything else is silent. Probably not a coincidence.
Solitude is deep. A certain superficiality is so hard to avoid when I spend too much time primping my pretty little mask for crowds of people. But I don’t want masks. I don’t want an image. I want me. And it helps to have the time and space to get to know myself before I let someone else barge in to tell me who I ought to be. It helps to dabble in the discipline of depth–even the depth of my solitude. Because somewhere deep down in ‘there’…I find myself and the One who made me.
Solitude is redeeming. When I zoom in too closely on my flaws and failures, I have to retreat to get back to the bigger picture. I know the prognosis of my human condition. I know that my heart is less than pure. And sometimes in the busyness of life, this is all I can see. But, when I’m alone, I have the clarity of thought to see and believe that my brokenness is not the end. It’s like catching my breath after a hard run. I just have to calm down and say yes to Growth and Grace. Being alone gives me a chance to think about how I want to do things better, and to ask the Lord to empower me along the way. It’s like being down on my hands and knees and suddenly sensing an outstretched hand in my peripheral vision. Hope is real. Second chances are available for me, too. Sometimes we get our fresh start huddled between friends, but others times…we have to learn to get along well enough with just ourselves and our Creator. Granted…the journey isn’t easy, but it is redeeming.
I must stress that although I’m often alone, I do not feel lonely. I’ve found comfort in my routine, companionship in the quiet. And I’ve accepted that this is where I am for now. I haven’t really understood what in the world God has been doing in my life for a great long while now, but I don’t doubt He knows what He’s doing.
So, tomorrow I’ll read another chapter, sing another song, grab another sunflower seed for the gerbils, and peer out another window. I’m serving my time…and I’m smiling.