Last week, my husband visited another YWAM base for 9 days.
That’s the longest stretch of time we’ve been apart since December of 2015. Before that, I think the longest time we had gone without seeing each other was around 20 hours. So 9 whole days was a bit of a stretch to say the least. But it was good for both of us. We both had time to think about things we tend to ignore as well as time to simply read a book or journal. (Or paint my nails. Another one of those things that gets put off… 😉 )
It’s also amazing how much cleaner a house stays when there’s only one person living in it. But that’s beside the point.
The point is, while my husband was gone, I learned the beauty of alone time. I wouldn’t classify myself as an introvert, but I definitely need some time to myself every once and again. The usual tell-tale sign that I need to take some time alone is when I suddenly become overwhelmed with people noise. Generally it gets to the point of not being able to hear people breathe. That’s when Courtney knows it’s time. Time to withdraw and hear the sweet sound of silence. But with an empty house for 9 days, I had enough time to conduct an experiment. What would happen if I didn’t wait for the “panic” moment?
As it turns out, alone time can actually be healthy. (Who would have thought?) Especially in the “preventative” sense. Instead of waiting for the crisis, when I end up almost crashing, it was actually way more satisfying to spend at least an hour or so each day alone with my own thoughts and Jesus. No music, no TV, no podcasts, no other sounds. Just the heaters clicking every so often and the sound of my own breathing.
It was actually magical.
But I realized something.
When I take the time to come to that place, to sit in the quiet with my own thoughts, I actually start to think. I think about how my day actually was. I think about the good things that happened and the hard things. I think about the proud moments and the disappointing ones. But I don’t whine. I don’t gloat. I just think. And I pray. I talk to God about the ways I saw Him move. I ask Him why I feel so crummy after a sarcastic comment. I tell Him how much I miss my husband. But there’s an internal process that happens. Suddenly, I’m not looking for the right word to say. I’m not looking for a reaction from someone else, because they’re no one else there. I’m not worried about how my words will affect the person I’m talking to because it’s God! And let’s be real… I really can’t say anything that’s going to cause Him to turn His back on the world. He’s God and He loves us all too much for that!
But taking that time to actually think about what’s going on inside of my brain, to pray about it and process it with God, actually helps me to really know how I’m doing. This kind of surprised me a little, to be completely honest. I’ve always said I’m an external processor. I always feel like I need to talk about things in order to really understand them and to understand what I think about them. And sometimes that’s true. Sometimes we need another person to bounce things off of. But there are also times when it’s good to just think. To talk to God about what I’m thinking and feeling. Not just run to the nearest friend to “vent” about what’s going on, but actually thinking about how I feel and taking the time to gain God’s perspective. And before I know it, I’m not actually upset about something that seemed like a big deal in the moment. Or the mountains I feel like I’m facing turn into prairies.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s still important to talk to other people. Relationship is what we are created for, so by all means we should live in relationship! But I know for myself, I can get so caught up in talking about things that I never actually take the time to think about things. Do you get what I’m saying? It’s so easy to say words. But how many of us say things before we think about them? I know I do that. More often than not, if I’m honest. So my challenge to myself is to take some time to be alone. Yeah, sure. FOMO is a real thing, I guess. (For those who don’t understand Generation Z language, FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.”) But I’ll sacrifice missing out on some things so that my heart and relationship with God can remain healthy.