Be Strong and Courageous!
Over the next 2 weeks, I am exploring principles of mental and spiritual strength. I will share characteristics that strong people exhibit and ways in which you can cultivate them in your own life.
Characteristic #3 – Strong People Practice Solitude and Prayer
Social distancing is stressful. We are designed by God to live together in community. Isolating ourselves from coworkers, friends, and family is a huge challenge. Schools are closed, restaurants and shuttered, stores are operating on limited schedules if they are open at all. We wonder how long can this last?
Physical isolation is unnatural. While we often crave a break from the routine and look forward to vacation, we depend on strong social networks for life and community. When those are taken away we feel vulnerable, scared and alone.
If social distancing and isolation is stressful, then how is solitude a characteristic of strong people? Solitude is not forced, it is practiced. Solitude is less about creating distance from others and more about creating space for God. The practice trains us to turn off the voices of doubt and fear and to listen to the voice of our creator.
CS Lewis, in his famous work the Screwtape Letters, poignantly addresses the power of silence in the lives of those who follow Jesus. He writes from the perspective of the devil,
Music and silence–how I detest them both!..[Hell] has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end….The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. (The Screwtape Letters, 119-120,)
Noise is a weapon to keep us from being able to listen to the Lord. Noise comes from news channels that sensationalize. Noise comes from people who hurt us. Noise comes from doubts about our work and the value we bring.
Strong people practice solitude for the purpose of tuning our souls to the voice of God. We train to turn off the noise so that the melodies of heaven can be heard. As we turn down the noise, we are ushered into the presence of our living God. Here we receive spiritual nourishment and encouragement for the journey. We listen to the truth of his Word, that we are loved and cherished and that the spirits of darkness have been overthrown. We are safe and all shall be well.
Resiliency is formed through our practice of solitude and prayer. Paul encourages this in us and for us in his words to the church in Rome as he writes, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:11-12).”
As we tune our hearts and minds to the voice of our shepherd, Jesus, we can more readily identify voices that are simply noise. We don’t have to listen to them, letting them go before they take hold and drag us off course. Strong people practice solitude and prayer in order to stay attuned to truth and goodness and get dragged off course by fear, guilt, and shame.
At Younique, we take time to look back at our story and identify where our story has been sabotaged by fear, guilt, and shame. We examine the patterns in our life, especially ones that lend themselves to getting off course. We call this Life Drifts. The purpose is not to revisit the pain but to more quickly and readily identify the noise so we can turn it off. Our online course, Your Story Matters, will guide you through the process of identifying
We also examine the rhythms in our life, which may include intentional time for solitude or prayer with trusted friends or family members. We value the example of Jesus who spent time in solitude and prayer during his earthy ministry, connecting with the voice of his father and building strength for the calling on his life to defeat death on the cross.
What is your comfort level with solitude? How do you engage in regular times of prayer and communion with God? I would love to hear your experience with solitude? How do you stay tuned to God’s voice in the midst of noise and disruption? Share with me your story. [email protected]. Be strong and courageous!