(This is a part of my "loaves and fishes" offerings - click here to see the original post)
So, what are my questions?
What is the “it” that I'm trying to figure out? What am I asking and hoping that if I do get an answer, will render my life more peaceful, meaningful, fulfilling, restful and in sync with God?
Honestly, at least currently, much of my struggles, doubts and insecurities stem from my “aloneness.” But indeed, it is the greatest paradox of my life. I love to be alone – to create alone – to enjoy stillness and solitude and quiet... I'm energized deeply by a leisurely, quiet morning in front of a fire reading, or gardening, reflecting, meditating, praying, sauntering. Typically, I do these best alone. I am the one who can't wait to go to a cabin in the woods/at the coast/in the gorge for a week by myself (with my dog and cat, of course.)
Though I have a preference for aloneness, I know I need community. I also have friends and communities with whom I intentionally share my life and even my struggles. Sometimes they are life-giving. At other times, the innate human temptation to “fix” one another predominates and I walk away even more discouraged. As a self-proclaimed selfish, finite, fumbling human I don't need a pep talk any more than a smoker needs to be told that smoking is not good for your health. I have a love/hate relationship with my communities, and as an extreme introvert who prefers monk-ish rhythms and thinks homesteading in simplicity on Walden pond, like Thoreau, would be idyllic, I struggle to be gentle with myself in giving me the space I need and finding the balance between alone/together so as to gift myself with what is appropriate for my sanity.
I know this about me...I need space to be alone. I cannot offer any "presence" to others unless I've regenerated in these abundant spaces - and for me, it seems to take a whole lot more than for others. And/or, I've been daring enough to re-align my life, live more simply, in order to take the space I need so I can be present and loving to God, self and others. In the midst there is a costly, beautiful ache in the aloneness. He has called me to be near...and I have devoted my life to be close to the Lord (Jer. 30:21) Regardless, beneath the aloneness I am not so much lonely as much as I wonder, “Am I desirable? Do I have value and beauty regardless of my capabilities? Am I wanted for more than what I have to offer? Can I be the monk-ish me in the midst of a world that feverishly pursues so much vanity?”
The world (nor the church) is set up well for those of us with contemplative monk-ish hearts. Oh to be gentle with myself and with the church...I'm not so good at either.
If you are asking ultimate life questions - trying to “figure life out” - or ready to consider some of these deeper longings of your soul, please consider journeying with a soul friend – a trained spiritual director. Spiritual Direction is an ancient practice in the church – where you companion with a person who journeys alongside and lends you courage to pay attention to all that your life – your true life – is voicing and longing to voice and contribute to a world in need. A Spiritual Director does not direct or coach your life – but (s)he will help you overhear the nuances of your own soul in tandem with the True Director, the Holy Spirit. For more info or questions on how to find a Spiritual Director and/or ask what Spiritual Direction is all about, click here or on the links below.