"I am afraid to show you who I really am, because if I show you who I really am, you might not like it and that's all I got."
The true meaning of solitude reaches far beyond the pursuit of recharging one's batteries and floating in a place of tranquility. Spending time alone to do just that is important, but it isn't the purpose of real humbling solitude. I think I'm finally realizing the difference. I want time to enjoy my own company and feel the grounding it provides. But, I also want to be brave enough to seek out the real solitude where the soul wrestling occurs.
I have only dipped my toe in this place........ well, maybe I've waded around in the reflection pool where aloneness adorns a different cape. But, like most people I fill my days up with interactions, activity and busy work, leaving not a speck of time to begin to undress the protective layers and masks I put on for good company. I try to go beyond the wading. More often than not when I begin to feel that sense of unprotected discomfort, when my raw vulnerability is visible I just want to hide from the hurtful memories or the sinful admissions that move in too close......
When they start to cross my boundaries by entering the room like angry apparitions, my first inclination is to flee! I phone a friend, tend to a bunch of errands, start writing, take a swan dive into my work. I start scheduling appointments, turn on the TV, get involved in helping someone else solve a problem. I organize a dinner party, gather people around me, and brainstorm a list of "to do's" that all of a sudden become so important to my life. I fret about others, fill the air with music, avoid prayer, numb myself with a glass of wine.
I'm no different than you. We are conditioned to hold on with all the strength we have to the roles and responsibilities which we allow society as well as the close people in our lives to define us. We define ourselves that way. It massages our egos. It puts a protective coating on between the starkness of being awake in the dark. Who wants to feel the deep reckoning associated with brokenness? It is a frightening place to dwell. BUT.... and it's a really big BUT .... it is the dwelling place which eventually frees us to experience the Hand of God.
Though every single activity I listed does have a place in our lives and can enhance our very existance, it is all life window dressing. Being loved, feeling a sense of belonging, clinging to the sense of importance in our community fuels our purpose. However, if we are using it to keep away from the deafening silence of solitude, we are missing out on facing the truth. WE are missing out on our best opportunity to be fully present to our authentic spiritual self. We are missing out on finding the avenue that has the potential to lead us to clarity and to being with God. We are missing out on the potential to experience a sense of salvation and cleansing because in order to get to that level of unburdening, we have to walk through a minefield of self reflection horrors that leave us realizing just how sacredly alone and weak we are.
When was the last time you stated just how busy you are? Are your days crammed tight with one activity after another? So much so that you fall in a heap into bed with no a speck of energy left in your mind, body and soul? Have you ever thought that perhaps you have set up your life like this to avoid solitude? The real meaningful solitude?
Earlier this week, I had a terrible day. I felt miserable from morning to night. My energy was depleted. It was like I had no reserves. There was a lactic acid tension build up burning just under my skin. I felt heavy, burdened, overwhelmed, incapable of making a decision. I had a list of "to do's" circulating in my head and yet I didn't seem to have the capacity to get a damn thing done. All of a sudden, I succumbed to feeling sorry for myself all the while I self flagellated through negative mind talk about not living up to the expectations I had posted up on the life bulletin board. Like it mattered. Like everything was so bloody important. Then I realized that the anger and frustration were stemming from my failure to avoid solitude.
Eventually, I pondered why I was avoiding being alone with myself. What was I afraid of? Perhaps I wouldn't like what may emerge from the blindside of who I am? But maybe this emergence would allow me to discover a part of myself that has a new way of looking out at the world? Maybe if I explore the ticking emotions by letting go of my ego driven defenses, I may be able to move forward in a different direction? Maybe by sitting inside solitude........ pushing through the noise would take me to a place where silence soothes rather than agitates? What do I have to lose, I thought. I'm not happy now. I can't hurt anymore than I do? It can't be that monstrously ugly, can it??
So I did...........I sat in the dark, taking one breath at a time. And you know what? Eventually, the noise settled. My breathing settled. My brain began to clear. My emotions began to settle down. I began to hear the harmony of the world all around me......... the outside noises as well as the inside ones. Eventually a new perspectives, still in their infancy began to be offered up as possibilities......
I kept breathing.......... not asking any particular questions and not requesting any particular answers. I took the pressure off both myself and God. I just let myself be. And you know what floated up into my thoughts?
Forgive. God does.
We are all doing our best....
Where I am now is where I should be.
What matters today is not what will matter eventually.
Forgive, you're loved even with the ugly bits of you.
It's like paddling against the current when you avoid something as necessary as being completely alone. Vulnerability in and of itself is so starkly ugly because it pries open our internal eyes to see the places inside that are unloved. Perhaps these places are unloved because they feel like total strangers..... distrusting, potentially dangerous? It's strange how much energy we blow off just by trying to avoid something rather than tapping into it to learn anew? Redirecting this energy just may be the ticket to letting yourself off the hook of perfection?
It's worth looking into. What have you got to lose really? I mean, if God loves you, you can't be all that bad.