“Solitude is the furnace of transformation.” Henri Nouwen, author of The Way of the Heart
When I was coping with my midlife divorce, I often found myself alone. Not just alone for a few hours in the day, but alone, alone. After our last child left for college and the divorce was final, I was alone, for the first time in my life really. I married during college, so I went from my parents’ home, to college, to a home with my husband, which soon filled with children. During those years, you pray for even a few minutes alone! You go in the bathroom and lock the door for a few precious minutes of solitude during those years! But after the divorce, I was the only one in my house most of the time almost every day. And since I worked from an office in my home, I didn’t have the camaraderie of fellow workers, either. That alone time was a huge adjustment. And I think one thing that made it so hard was that in my head, everyone else was “happily sharing life with someone else.” Everyone (especially my husband and his girlfiend) seemed to be at a perpetual party having a wonderful time, while I was sitting in my home trying not to feel lonely and depressed. (And I am a person who has always cherished my alone time!) Let me tell you from where I am now: Don’t wish away that time by yourself. Use it. Face that fire of solitude. Surrender to the solitude. Don’t rush to fill it up with meaningless activity and stuff. Pretend you are on a life-transforming sabbatical to find yourself and to find your purpose and to think about the Big Questions of life. If you believe in God, try to listen to his voice in this time. Try to let your new life purpose find expression. You simply cannot reflect deeply in the hustle and bustle of full/busy days. You have been given this gift of solitude. (Okay, it’s been forced on you!) It can be a difficult, scary, disorienting time, but it can be a very, very enlightening time. Find your own transformation in this season with just yourself. You will be amazed at the deep, beautiful, powerful truths you can discover!
“As soon as Jesus heard the news, he went off by himself in a boat to a remote area to be alone.” ~ John 14:13a (The Living Bible)