alone

I hate being alone.

I am certain I drive some of my friends and family crazy, because I don’t even like waiting in restaurants for other people to arrive. The only places I willingly sit alone are at Panera or Starbucks when I am reading, writing or working. But even then, if a friendly face stops by…the seat across from me is always theirs if they want it.

I love looking at the sky, from sunset to moonrise, I love every aspect of God’s universe that appears. Yet again, I hate watching alone. At night as I am winding down are some of the best conversation I’ve ever had with anyone. And as crazy as some might think I am, I refuse to actually talk to myself. During summers when our family is at the lake, one of my favorite things is to sit outside at night on the deck. My dad can outlast us all, but those moments together are memorable. Someone to sit in quiet nighttime moments and just be present within whatever conversation happens makes my heart happy.

There are times when I am good being alone. If God has me soaking in some scripture, I need to give myself the space to hear him.

If I need to decompress and could potentially take out a frustration on an innocent bystander…I probably need to take a drive alone for everyone’s safety.

Realistically, it is rare that I am able to recharge in moments alone. I need people. I need my community. I need someone who will let me process out loud.

But also, realistically, I probably need more time to be still, quiet and listen for the whisper of God alone. By myself…in scary silence. Even as I type it out I am cringing. I need noise. Even in the moments I find myself alone, there is normally music playing.

However the real question is do I need noise, or do I want it? Is there a point it becomes too much?

Things get muddled when there is a lot of sound and busyness. When I need clarity. When I need to hear God. When I need to make certain I am following the Holy Spirit…the noise becomes a distraction in my safety zone of having people surround me.

Surrendering myself to the voice of God and his leading gets affirmed within community, but I need time and space to discern that voice and leading.

IMG_6443On a rooftop in northern Haiti…all alone…seeking God and surrendering to that silence found a time with God soaked in poignance. The key is I forced myself to be alone.

And what is heard in those moments can be scary and freeing all at the same time. I know the road those moments lead me down and they are some of the most restorative, refreshing and exhilarating.

But I have to force myself to be alone…and sometimes I need a little accountability to not run in the opposite direction.

 

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ready

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Just when I think I am ready for something…I quickly discover I am not, which is why I choose to live with flexibility that helps me adapt surrounded by others that believe in me and what God is doing within me.

But what makes us ready for what this world throws at us?

Is it experience? Wisdom? Education? Money?

Or maybe it is faith, hope…love?

Perhaps the people that surround us make us ready for pain, hurt, challenges and disaster?

I think if we fool ourselves into thinking we are always ready for what comes, we do a huge disservice to those around us. Part of being within a community is trusting that they have your back. And when we get thrown a curve ball…we are not alone. Allow people to wrap their arms around you, support you and fight with you. Being vulnerable and honest is hard. Well, sucks really. But it is what bonds us together as God’s people.

Don’t discount the things God can do through and in you by believing that you can do it on your own. You cannot. Stop being the stubborn human that thinks they have the strength to stand alone. This is not a competition in strength, and if you live that way you are not embracing the grace of God.

God created you, filled you with the Holy Spirit and has given you opportunities to belong in community with others. You may have chosen to not take those opportunities, but they were there. He knows you, and is not surprised that you feel you need to stand alone with an ‘I got this!’ combined with a ‘Bring it on!’ mentality…but alone is not the point of being ready. It’s in the people God has placed around you that make you ready to withstand a torrent of awful…normally with a side of humility.

 

alone

Water swirls around me as I catch a breath then tuck my head back into the blissful quiet of the pool.

Stroke. Kick. Stroke. Kick. Breathe. Stroke. Kick. Stroke. Kick.

All alone.

When I am swimming it is one of the most peaceful times for me to decompress and clear my head. Second only to hanging out in God’s glorious nature. I may be outgoing, but God doesn’t speak through my outgoing moments. His presence is felt and he speaks through the times I am alone. Quiet. Dreams. Rest. I have to be disciplined to grab onto those moments, or suffer the separation from my Savior. Not good for me…ever.

This morning I woke up with a random song in my head, and while I was swimming the chorus was on a loop…breathing in and out of my soul as I was catching breathes between strokes.

Sometimes I need something to run like a mantra through my head for it to truly sink in.

I am set free. It is for freedom that I am set free.

I actually couldn’t remember the rest of the lyrics. But this mantra of my freedom associated with ‘it is for freedom I am set free’ was continuous.

As I mulled it over, losing track of laps…freedom to bring others freedom or freedom for me to rest in after being set free.

When we got back from the pool (and after the Duke game…priorities…) I hit the iPod.

You mend my life with your holy fire. You cover me with grace.

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It takes time alone with God for me to feel that mending with his Holy fire. And oh how it can be a raging Holy fire at times…

What this freedom, and mending, means for me is to be free of the shackles of the expectations of others.

Freedom is not suffocating in the sin my Savior willingly takes from me.

Free of the chains holding me to a person I am not.

Freedom to proclaim what I am called to and what I am not called to, and being set free to be that person.

Freedom to bask in the Holy Spirit fire that guides me, restores me and draws me to the heart of God.

Freedom to grasp with my last dying grip to the peace that Jesus freely gave in John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

It is being alone with God where I feel the most clarity in my spirit, his peace and where I see most clearly my past, future and the now. Free of distraction, and my mind empty for God to fill…a woman in process and mended by his Holy fire.

(Lyrics from ‘I am set free’ by All Sons and Daughters)