I just got off the phone with my husband who made it to his destination in Washington for his 3-week time of solitude.
Which you may already be wondering: what is a spiritual solitude time? Why would anyone consider this?
There are many stories in Scripture of people seeking solitude time or periods of stillness to refresh, focus on God, and seek clarity in their life or receive instruction for their next step. Even Jesus went to the mountains to refresh and seek rest away from the crowds who were constantly following him in amazement from the miracles and teachings he was powerfully presenting to others.
And at this moment, this is a similar reason for my husband to be embarking on this journey, while having a licensed Christian counselor to navigate him through the process.
Maybe you think that’s weird. But I believe it’s incredibly humbling for my husband to seek out, admirable, and I honor him all the more for his approach to seek God more intimately in order to serve our family even better through this next season of life God has invited us into.
Personally, I’ve sought out times of stillness or taken seasons to pull back from the hustle and bustle of life to seek clarity, get grounded, and even deal with some of the internal struggles going in inside me. And every time its proven to be the most powerful life-changing experiences of growth I’ve ever had with God and myself.
As you may know, my husband quit his job which enables him to take this 3-week time away (otherwise, I realize it would be quite difficult taking that much time off from work…however, even a week or weekend of solitude can be incredibly helpful). We also sold our house and I’m currently living with my three young children at my parent’s house in Northern California which eases the burden of taking care of everything while he’s gone. Soon after he returns, we will head to South-West Idaho where we will begin the adventure of fixing up a 50-acre ranch with friends and turning it into a Christian events/retreat center (which will also serve the community with weddings, holiday festivals, etc.).
Since I’ve been asked this question a few times after mentioning it with others, let me share with you 3 reasons to consider a time of solitude or time of stillness and let you consider why you might want to do the same:
1) Experiencing Burn Out
I mentioned this before, but my husband was experiencing major burn out from his overly demanding role in his career. And although he recently quit this job, we believe burnout could linger to the next position if it isn’t dealt with. Having an extended time of solitude can help with this and give you the extended peace your heart and mind needs to regenerate and refresh after a long and demanding season.
2) Need Clarity and Direction
Have you ever questioned if what you are doing is actually what you should be doing in life? Do you feel lost in your sense of purpose and identity, or need clarity and direction about something important? While I currently feel clear in my own unique purpose and identity, it hasn’t always been this way. I’ve also sought times of stillness (however, not quite as intense as what my husband is embarking on) which has been helpful to aligning me with God and believing in the unique gifts and characteristics He’s given me to fulfill at home, in marriage, and in my business-ministry endeavors. While brief times of stillness can be helpful, there’s nothing more powerful than seeking extended stillness and solitude to seek God for the ultimate direction and clarity that you need in life.
3) Strip Away What’s Holding You Back
None of us like to admit we have struggles or issues we are facing. Yet we all are. And most of us would rather sweep those unsightly parts about us under the rug and not have to deal with them. However, solitude time will most definitely bring out those struggles and make you wrestle with them, which may be painful at first, but also help you overcome the present battles you may be facing. Is it insecurity? Doubt? Pride? Or maybe something more tangible like alcohol addiction? Phone or technology addiction? Or some other issue you may be facing. Perhaps you will want to consider getting face to face with the internal battles you’ve been facing and really unravel them in a safe environment (like a counselor) where you can deal with them once and for all.
Regardless, I’ve never seen times of solitude or stillness go to waste in my own life. I’ve also seen the positive effects it’s had on others and respect the stories others have shared with me about their own times of solitude and how its impacted their life in such powerful ways.
Perhaps you can take it slow and simply fast for 3 days from your phone or social media. Or, I would encourage you to take 3 days away somewhere quiet where you can actively journal and pray without distraction or losing your focus. It may very well be the exact thing your mind and heart needs right now.