Growing in Solitude

This devotion is part of a series of devotions on how to grow in your walk with God. If you have not already done so, you may find it helpful to read the introductory devotion, Growing in God: Mommy Edition.

I remember a time not so long ago when I used to take uninterrupted showers. I would get into the shower, get clean, get out of the shower, and get dressed, all without hearing my name called even once.

I even used to sleep through the night without any little footsteps coming toward my room, followed by a little voice saying, “Mommy? Mommy, I can’t sleep.”

As moms, we don’t get lots of time to ourselves. We’re on duty 24/7. When we’re home, we’re never out of reach of our children. And once they learn how to call us on our cell phone, even when we’re away, we’re still on duty (“Mommy? When are you coming home?”) Yet solitude is a vital spiritual discipline. In other words, it’s something we need if we’re going to grow spiritually.

We’re caught between a rock and a hard place. We need solitude, but we can’t get it. So rather than make our children suffer, we let our spiritual life suffer. After all, it’s the only thing we can do. Right?

Wrong. Even in the midst of mothering small children, there are ways to find solitude. But before we discuss those ways, let’s talk about why we need solitude in our spiritual lives.

This kind of solitude is not just so we can take a break from our parenting responsibilities. It has a higher purpose. It’s so we can be with God. For a little while, we can lay our earthly responsibilities aside and focus on our heavenly relationship. Sometimes, we might simply remain quiet before God. Other times we might pray, meditate, or even sing. The point is to be alone with Him, to hear His voice above all the other voices clamoring for our attention.

It’s a nice idea in theory. Too bad we can’t make it work.

But we can. You see, God knows that time alone with Him is vital to our spiritual development. He won’t place upon us any life calling—such as motherhood—that will turn something vital into something impossible. We may have to get creative about ways to find solitude, but God will help us, and He is infinitely creative.

After all, if a woman with 19 children can find time alone with God, then surely we can, too. Yes, that’s right—19! Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles) gave birth to 17 other children as well. One of her favorite ways to spend time alone with God was to sit in the midst of the busyness and bring her apron hem up over her head so that her face was covered. She trained her children to respect the fact that when Mama had her apron over her head, Mama was unavailable.

You and I could easily do something similar. We could teach our children that when Mommy is kneeling by the rocking chair, or they hear a certain praise and worship CD playing, they need to play quietly by themselves for a few minutes. Obviously, the exact details will depend on the number of children we have and on their ages. But even young children can learn to respect Mommy’s time with the Lord for a little while, if we are willing to spend the time and effort to train them to do so. And besides, what a witness it is to our children when they see Mommy putting God first!

Another possibility is to deliberately schedule times when we put on a video for them, or get them started playing a game together, or initiate some other activity for them so that they will have something to do while we are enjoying our solitude. Other options include asking our husband or a friend to care for our children while we take a mini-retreat—anywhere from half an hour to several hours. Another alternative might be to allow our children to play quietly in the room with us when we have our solitude. After all, solitude doesn’t necessarily have to mean solitude of the body; it can mean solitude of our mind and heart.

You can probably think of other ways to establish solitude, ways which might work even better for you and your family. The point is not so much how you obtain your solitude as the fact that you make getting it a priority. If you define solitude as when your body is alone, you will rarely find it. But if you broaden your definition to include solitude of heart and mind, even when your body is in the midst of the chaos of mothering, I guarantee you can find it.

It won’t be easy. Old habits of putting everything else first are hard to break. Plus, Satan doesn’t want you to find time to commune with your God. Fortunately, God does want you to have that time with Him, and He’s willing to show you ways to make it happen.

Why not ask God to help you experience solitude with Him this week? You may have to start “small”, with small blocks of time. But as you make it a point to carve out more and more time with Him, you’ll get better and better at doing so. And you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Psalm 27:8—You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

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