Monday, January 10, 2011

Silence and solitude

"In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15

Remember when I mentioned Dr. Ben Carson's book Take the Risk in my previous post Stepping Stones to Iowa? One of the many things that stuck with me from that book was Dr. Carson's description of his single mother. He wrote about how every so often she would take he and his brother to a relative's house and drop them off for a few days. What he didn't know then was she was heading straight to a mental hospital to check herself in. She wasn't crazy. She needed to be alone. She needed to rest. I'll admit since reading this I have thought more than once about heading to a psych ward. I think these days the intake would take more life out of me than I have to give and they may involve social services and question my mothering sanity which would be a little counter productive at this point. Oh, and I'm sure insurance would kick me out as soon as I finally got to lay down and close my eyes.

When Danica's symptoms returned last April I began experiencing some of the worst fatigue of body and mind and spirit I ever thought possible. I started seeing a counselor, and I began medication. What I have come to understand is the stress of our long term challenges, lack of sleep and lack of general enjoyment of life have robbed my brain of necessary chemicals to stay charged. Since I was a child I have loved the above verse. I have always been one of those people who needs regular periods of being alone to be okay. In the past 16 weeks since Danica's surgery I have been with her almost ALL the time. I used to have Tuesday and Thursday nights alone after the kids went to bed and Dan was at work. Now he is working days, which I am very thankful for, but I didn't realize how much I craved those hours to myself. The time Miss Emily has been here helping I have been using for running necessary errands and making exasperating phone calls but certainly not resting or reading or praying or sleeping. I feel like the constant input of my children, my husband, friends, family, the internet, TV, facebook, blog . . . it all muffles the cry of my soul to be still and know.

The hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I hear all the catch phrases about putting myself on the list and taking care of me first so I'm there for others, yada, yada . . . This all seems to point to selfishness of some kind, and I'm pretty steeped in the martyr life by this point. While working through Adele Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook I have come to realize the desire of my heart to retreat and be near God is not rooted in selfishness at all. It is a necessary spiritual exercise to strengthen my faith and remind me who I am in Christ. I am not just a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend . . . I am a child of God.

I left my family Saturday. I went and checked into a hotel. It was so quiet I felt very uncomfortable at first. I didn't have anything to do. No one needed me. I didn't turn the TV on. I didn't listen to music. I was very still, and I breathed in and out. Adele writes in her chapter on Solitude, "In solitude we see how little we embrace our true identity in Christ. And we find the truth of who we are in Christ. We are the beloved, and God is pleased with us. This identity is given; it is not earned. Many other voices are pulling at us, seeking to own and name us, but in solitude we learn what it is to distiguish between the voices of God and the voices of the world."

I was renewed by my silence and solitude. I was reminded my family can survive without me. I realized how much God delights in my drawing near to Him . . . just Him. I slept for 10 hours without my body being half engaged in the possibility of someone calling me for comfort or a drink or a snuggle. On Sunday morning I wrote some hopes for this year. I prayed through them believing nothing is impossible. I reflected on God's faithfulness to our family and to me personally. I came away with one firm resolution, to make personal retreat a commitment in my life no matter what.

1 comment:

  1. I am SO glad you got that time, Monica. SO GLAD!! *huge sister hugs*