Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
As I pulled into the parking lot of the small cafe on the shores of Lake Superior, the parking lot full of cars gave me pause. The quick, one-night get away to the North Shore for the hubs and me had turned into a quick solo trip due to circumstances beyond our control. I had a speaking engagement at a nearby church in the morning, and I found myself facing an unexpected afternoon and night of forced solicitude.
I'd thought to sneak into our favorite cafe for a late lunch/early dinner at 3 p.m. and had hoped to find the place empty - primarily so I could hide in the corner for a quick meal - wondering if my favorite salad was back on the menu. Following the hostess further into the dining area, I suddenly realized my secret, solitary meal was still going to be solitary, but while sitting at the table in the very middle of the cafe at the intersection of every walkway - the one place where I would be on display for every couple, every group of women out for a girl's weekend to eye curiously.
I raised an ironic eyebrow heavenward. It seems that God's sense of humor was on full display.
Instead of leaving or hunching miserably in my chair, hiding in my phone, I ate the most delicious brussel sprout leaf salad with a confidence and peace that was partly faked and was partly fueled by the determination that eating alone was simply not going to bother me.
As the embarrassment at being solitary faded, it occurred to me how afraid we've become at being alone - alone with our thoughts, alone with God - that we'll do almost anything to avoid it, even to the point of choosing to be jolted with electricity rather than sit with our thoughts for 15 minutes (seriously, here's the article).
There is nothing to fear from time spent in quiet solicitude with God, whether its strolling along a rocky beach listening to the rhythm of crashing waves or curling into a hotel bed, realizing a bit wistfully that my early-rising son won't be shouting "MOM" across the hallway at 5:45 am to see if I'm up yet.
My current season in life is that of encourager, listener, finder, fixer, correcter, cooker, snuggler, driver, and laundress - and it is chaotic, loud, and requires a constant balancing act of being mom, wife, attorney, and follower of Christ. And it's all wonderful, good stuff - especially when I know that I only have these few short years in which to mold and launch these two funny, sweet, loud, crazy fledglings currently living in my house.
But, sometimes, I forget me. I focus on the woman defined by loud labels describing what I do for others so much so that the quieter labels describing who I am get swept under the proverbial basement couch, forgotten and gathering dust bunnies.
As I met and walked with God in that solitary space, I rediscovered me - the woman who quietly exists aside from the labels describing what I do for others. And I also rediscovered God - who He is, and what He says about me.
It is only in the stillness, in the solitude, in the time spent quietly in God's presence that we re-calibrate His magnificence and our role in his kingdom. And it is only in the stillness that we find ourselves, the one who exists separately from all the roles we play.
Heavenly Father, for those of us in a season filled with chaos and noise and being pulled in a million different directions, help us find afternoons and mornings and lunch hours and moments in which we can turn off all the distractions and simply sit in stillness before you. Remind us of the women we are separate from the labels. And for those of us who find ourselves in a season with too much solitude, whisper into our hearts our worth, our value, and place us in spaces where we can pour your love into the lives of others. Amen.