But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:2)
Things to do, bills to pay, work to be done, bathrooms to clean, meals to cook, dishes to wash, shows to watch, books to read, papers to write, places to be, friends to see…and on and on the cycle goes. Whether you’re single or not, life can get extremely busy and that hectic pace can leave you frazzled and full of anxiety. That’s why the Spiritual Disciplines of Silence and Solitude are so important. The act of coming away from everything to set yourself before God and quiet your heart can bring everything back into perspective and help you realign your priorities.
“The Discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought. Sometimes silence is observed in order to read, write, pray, and so on. Though there is no outward speaking, there are internal dialogues with self and with God. This can be called “outward silence.” Other times silence is maintained not only outwardly but also inwardly so that God’s voice might be heard more clearly
Solitude is the Spiritual Discipline of voluntarily and temporarily withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes. The period of solitude may last only a few minutes or for days. As with silence, solitude may be sought in order to participate without interruption in other Spiritual Disciplines, or just to be alone with God.” (Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, pg 182.)
When I was single (not too long ago…) I developed the habit of often spending an entire Saturday morning with my Bible, journal, commentaries, prayer cards, etc. It was a time when the Lord would show me where I had sin hidden in my heart or when I would unload my struggles and anxieties. I would often spend time just sitting there in silence, quieting my racing mind and setting the adoration of my heart on Christ. There were times of prayer for myself, intercession for those I love, journaling, singing, reading. It was beautiful. It was a time I counted on to tend to my soul and grow in Christlikeness. (Not that I neglected the Lord at other times during the week, but just that I didn’t have as long or as uninterrupted times. For instance, my morning devotions were good but I was often distracted by the things that needed to be done for the rest of the day or whether I was going to be late to work or how much time I had left or if I had food for lunch or whether I defrosted the chicken for dinner that night or…) My Saturday mornings, though, were undistracted—nowhere to go, nothing that couldn’t wait. They were a very blessed time that I looked forward to all week long. They became a very sacred time that only the most important things could interrupt.
In the month and a half I’ve been married…boy, have things changed. Finding time to be by myself has become a task in itself. My life does not belong just to me any longer. I have a husband to tend to. My agenda has been melded in with his so I can’t be selfish with my time or schedule (still learning this lesson…). I have responsibilities to be a blessing to my husband. It’s a new season of life. So I need to learn what the disciplines of silence and solitude look like for me now. I know my husband needs and wants this time with the Lord also, so it’s just another area that we’ll have to work out.
Silence and solitude don’t have to include extended times of camping out in the woods with no one around for miles (though that would work). It can be a few moments in the car to slow down and breathe, turn off the radio and redirect your thoughts to more eternal things, or maybe in the elevator while you wait for your floor, or while you’re waiting in the cashiers line. It doesn’t take long to seek Him. He’s always near to you. Or if you do have more time go for a long walk, or go away for a weekend to a secluded spot (but be safe!), or find a quiet spot to park your car and watch the sunset (again, please be wise and safe).
This is the time to build these disciplines (whether married or single). But for singles, I speak as one who’s gone before you, don’t wait. Do it now. You won’t regret the time that you spend seeking the Lord in undistracted solitude and silence. Still your heart and mind as often as you can and let the Lord mold you into the gentle and quiet spirit that he finds so precious (1 Pet. 3:4) “The time for silence and solitude will rarely be easy to chisel out of your schedule. The world, the flesh, and the Enemy of your soul will see to that. But if you discipline yourself to do it, your only regret will be that you didn’t start sooner.” (Whitney, p 199)
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)