Why is it so hard to take time out of our day to practice solitude with God? Last week, during our spiritual disciplines retreat, we spent solitude with the Lord. The catch is, however, that we did not just break off on our own for twenty minutes then meet back up again. We found a place completely alone in the woods. Then, we sat in solitude for about four hours. Once I had picked out the spot I wanted to set up my hammock, I jumped in, relaxed for a second, and then I instinctually reached for my phone. It caught me off guard. I knew I did not have my phone with me, but I still reached for it—I always reach for my phone when I have any form of free time. After understanding what had just happened, I realized that I would have to break the cycle and finally be deliberate in my time with the Lord.

The first two hours still felt very lonely. I constantly prayed that I would be able to discern the voice of God and hear Him speak truth into my life. However, I felt distant from His presence. There were so many emotions, thoughts, and questions running through my head; I really needed to express them to God, but it felt impossible to do so. After a frustrating two hours, I decided that I would attempt to release my emotions to God in a different way. I opened my journal and I began writing poetry. As soon as I began writing poetry, I felt my heart open to God as I allowed Him to see the intricacies of my being. Of course, God knows everything about me, but I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable in God’s presence. Poetry was a means for me to realize that I did not need to be scared of God seeing my inner-most thoughts and emotions.

After our spiritual retreat, I got to spend a weekend with my family. As a result, when I returned to campus, I had to spend three days in isolation (because of COVID-19 protocol). I was excited to spend extended time in solitude with God during this time. However, I quickly realized that even though I was in a room by myself with almost entire days of free time, I still could not find time to be in solitude with God. I would busy myself with social media, movies, and phone calls. It was not until I began deliberately pushing the other things away that I was able to pursue time in solitude.

Our time with God needs to be intentional. It is too often that we come up with excuses and alternate plans. However, our relationship with God is definitely a relationship, and all relationships require quality time for growth.

by Sammy Lee