Sunday, September 29, 2013

Isolation vs. Solitude

I used to think that isolation makes for good solitude, 
Now I know that it just breaks relationships.

I love my students. That's the whole reason I moved here, I've left my old home and begun forging a new one. I've given of my time and resources. Pretty much everything the last few years has been dedicated to being able to serve my students better here at Tanalian Leadership Center. 
So then I have to ask myself, why is it that when they actually lived here with me, I kept finding myself pushing them away? Well, after a good summer of time to ponder, some bold people who are willing to speak truth into my life and more than a few encounters with the Word of God, I feel like I'm beginning to understand. The one phrase that kept playing through my mind since last spring was "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3)  Those words haunted me and they began to make all the times I said "no", "not now", "I need my sleep" or generally avoided connecting with people taste bitter in my memories. 
Something was wrong and had to change. 
I didn't get what it was yet because I always had a reason when I did those things. It was well thought out rational for every time. Usually it had something to do with taking care of myself and not letting people walk all over me and my boundaries. Boundaries are a good thing right? I had endless reasons for all of these choices but it wasn't till I listened to a book called "Crucial Conversations" that I had a lightbulb moment. That's when I realized that most of those reasons were made up after the fact as a justification or what they call a "clever story." My story sure sounded great but I made the choice because I was selfish then came up with the story about how it was unselfish afterward. 
So what was driving these choices besides just raw, fleshy selfishness. Well, I think it came from having a very introverted personality and feeling like I need lots of space to function well. My attitude was
"If I just keep people far enough away, perhaps I can have the solitude I need."
And while, yes, I need my solitude, it turns out that isolation is not the way to get it. I end up like Jonah. I wonder if he thought, 
"What I need is a nice vacation on the other side of the Medeterainian. Perhaps I'll hear God more clearly from over there perhaps he's not really telling me to do the last think in the world I would want to do.
I don't want to be like that. 
I think what I need to learn to do is find true solitude at the proper times so I can connect with my Lord. I could take a lesson from Jesus on that. He had no problem dissapearing in the mornings to go to the garden and pray. I'm pretty sure he even turned his cell phone off (Gasp! It has that setting?) 
But then when I come back I need to remember the reason I'm here, to connect with the people I love, then do that.