Forgive me for stumbling over my words when talking about this; I’ve never fully defined this concept, or really talked about it. Only the people who truly know me believe me when I tell them that I’ve been in my “alone place,” which is generally why they’re the only ones who know about it. But perhaps now is a good time to bring the darkness into the light, in a sense, both for me to truly say what this place is, and to bring it outside of me to be examined, questioned, and hopefully in the end, destroyed. It’s the general consensus that it’s good to have some time alone, but for me, it’s mentally, physically, and spiritually draining. The scariest part is not being able to notice until I’m out.
I guess this is why people call me an extrovert. I’ve always tried to distance myself from the title, since it has so many negative connotations, such as being shallow or attention seeking or two-faced. The idea, though, is that extroverts get their “energy” from being around people. What God showed me is that it’s more than just “energy” – it’s Joy. His Joy. When I’m around people I love, or am able to give them my joy, my peace, my laughter, or my time, it brings me Joy. Jesus taught me this recently when He brought me out of my alone place.
What is this alone place? It’s exactly what it sounds like – a place where I can be alone, where I can hide. A refuge in times of humiliation or shame or failure. A place of safety when I’m afraid, or when I just don’t want to deal with life anymore. There are infinite walls going in infinite directions, within which is me, and only me. There, I think and overthink, I distract myself, I sleep. My thoughts go over themselves and wind through each other and take on meanings and subtleties that lead me down a path I would have never taken in the first place. My alone place is in my room with the lights off, it’s in my classes when my pen’s down, it’s at my friend’s party when all I want to do is disappear. It’s after church when I run into the used book store and refuse to look at God. Because God is not there either.
My alone place is a lie, God has taught me. There is no safety there, and life isn’t better there. The problems that surround me are still there when I leave – hence why it’s been a while since I’ve left. But He’s merciful, and ever faithful. He’s bent over backwards to bring me out, to lead me to people and into situations where I see His Light, and His Joy, but something else come up and i’m back again in my room, laying down on my bed and contemplating… well, I’m not ready to bring that to light yet.
And yet, He still loves me. He still comes after me. When I finally come into His Presence and sit down and do my work, He is proud of me. He envelopes me in His Love, and I am at peace again. He’s not annoyed that I continue to run from Him, neither does He stack these grievances against me. Beyond all reason, He believes that I’m worth the price He paid for me, and He’ll never let me go.
One of my spiritual disciplines (which have fallen away due to my time in my alone place…) is to write daily in a journal, preview and review. I’m glad for this, because today, the Holy Spirit brought me back to something Jesus told me a couple days after my birthday, when I was struggling within my alone space. He brought me out, sat me down, and gave me a staff. “Here, take this,” He said.
“A shepherd’s staff?” I asked, turning it in my hands. The wood was worn – I don’t know how I knew it was a shepherd’s staff.
“‘Even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him may be saved.’ I know it’s hard, but you are not held to your failures. But take this staff. Whenever you feel alone, or hard pressed, hold this close and call My name. Remember Me, and help will come to you.
You are never alone.”
I had forgotten this. I have forgotten many things while in my alone space. It steals these gifts from me, making me face myself at my worst, the skeleton that I am without God. But I still have this gift, and I pray that I don’t forget His words to me. Or at least, that He will remind me time and time again: You are My daughter. I love you, and I am proud of you.