Avoiding people because of fear or anxiety is considered isolation. Solitude, as I define the word, is choosing to limit interaction with people temporarily for a higher purpose. For me, that higher purpose is mental and emotional healing as well as focusing my mind on God’s Word to reset it from the distractions around me.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
When I’m tired, I lose hope; because hope takes energy. Hope is an action. It’s a choice. When my soul is depleted, I don’t always have the energy to choose hope.
Depression and anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder – all mental illnesses – are identified as such because they negatively impact a person’s ability to function. Tasks that are natural and instinctual for most people require extra effort and sometimes cause pain for people with mental illness.
Just getting up on time, getting dressed, and going out in public can drain all my energy some days. Once I get where I’m going, I’m operating on a deficit of resources. Other days, I wake up with a deficit of resources.
Jesus knew we would all need rest, and He built it into His ministry. He taught His disciples to rest. And that rest often included solitude.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Resting my body is obviously necessary. Humans were designed to sleep regularly so that they could heal and grow properly.
Mental rest often requires solitude.
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord. …
Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Being alone is just the beginning, because my mind may still try to focus on all the things that are going on in my life. Worry and anxiety sound louder when there are no other voices in the room.
In order to truly rest, I need to move my mind to a source of peace. And God’s Word has proven to be my best option over and over again.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
He doesn’t tell me to just be still. He tells me to be still and think about who He is, and who He is to me.
God’s Word teaches us to start our prayers with praise and worship, most noticeably in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9). And here in Psalm 46, He’s saying the same thing. First, think about how big God is.
But both the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 46 then quickly bring it back to my personal relationship with Him. “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11) “The Lord Almighty is with us.”
When I’m so tired I can’t even choose to hope, my first step is to just look at God. I open His Word and read about who He is. And I can’t read His Word without reading about how much He loves me and wants to be in my life.
We just came through the Christmas season. When I was sitting on the couch this morning, exhausted to my core, I remembered that one of His names is Immanuel – God with us (Matt. 1:23). He is with me. Now. On the couch.
And I remembered that He specifically called out to the weary ones.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
I needed rest this morning, desperately. But I didn’t just rest physically. I rested my mind and heart on His Word and found the compassion I needed to heal.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,”
Today, I employed solitude as a tool for self-care. I rested on God’s Word and found the strength I needed to hope.
How has spending time alone with God brought you hope?
Photo credit: lillith