I am an introvert so the discipline of solitude shouldn't be difficult. Or so I thought.
I am finding that solitude is so much more then being alone and quiet. It is about God-focus. An ability to not be distracted. A honing of my spiritual senses, enabling me to better experience the Holy Spirit's leading in my life moment to moment.
In his book Celebration of Discipline, Foster writes this additional insight about solitude:
"The dark night is one of the ways God brings us into a hush, a stillness so that he may work an inner transformation upon the soul."
He goes on to explain how this "dark night" is often accompanied by feelings of a barrier between my heart and God. A suspicion that He is far away and my prayers are not quite hitting His ears and His Word is not quite touching my heart.
I read this and something inside me nods in agreement. I think that is a place I have visited a time or two. Or ten.
But another (rebellious) part of me just wants to argue with Foster's observation.
Aren't challenging times most often the result of human failings? Why should He feel the need to inflict me with hardship to inspire soul growth? Can't there be an easier and less painful way?
I reflect on those questions personally and the truth is blindingly simple. I have control issues. I want to determine when I enjoy my solitude. I don't want God enforced solitude. I think I know myself best! And if I don't feel like growing spiritually I shouldn't have to!!
Foster goes on to say regarding those harsher times of solitude, "Be grateful that God is lovingly drawing you away from every distraction so that you can see him clearly."
These enforced moments of solitude are really expressions of love from a God who desires my soul to expand into something more lovely, more Christ-like. From that perspective, the solitude of a dark night suddenly becomes strikingly beautiful. It is confirmation that God is not done with me. He hasn't thrown up His hands and said "Enough! I am through with her".
Solitude allows God to pull my heart closer to His own!! Solitude allows me to bide my time while God does His work in me.