Saturday, June 8, 2013

On Rest and Time Alone: A Realization

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
-Matthew 11:28

I love people! I mean I love being around people, especially my close friends and housemates pretty much all the time. I enjoy talking and telling stories. I always say that two of my favorite ‘c’ words are ‘coffee and ‘conversation.’ Lately, however, God has begun teaching me something about the importance of rest and time spent away from people.

Let me say this if you haven’t guessed it already, or if you know me already you will for sure know this fact about me: I am an extrovert. No doubt about it, but there is another category that dictates a lot about each of us, and that is the factor of when it comes to processing life as a whole, each person is either an external processor or an internal processor.  An easy way to diagnose which one you are is rather simple: when you think through situations, conversations and interactions you have had throughout your day, do you need to talk about them with another person to come to understandings about what you have experienced? Or do you tend to quietly think about such things inside your head, and then speak about them once you have drawn a conclusion?

If you are the type who needs to talk things through, you are an external processor, while if you think about things inside your own mind and draw conclusions that way, you are most likely an internal processor.

Now it would be easy for you to conclude at this point that all extroverts are external processors and all introverts are internal processors. However, this is not at all the case, as my two bests friends are examples of this. One of them is an introvert who processes things externally, while my other best friend is an extrovert who processes things internally. Which am I you ask? Well I am an extrovert who processes things externally! Yes that means I am the double whammy!  I am the person who truly talks ALL THE TIME!

Anyways that was a long introduction to tell you about what I have been learning of late, which is that though I easily CAN talk all the time, that doesn’t mean I SHOULD! Also, just because I CAN spend time around people 16 hours a day easily, it doesn’t mean I SHOULD!

Jesus modeled this very well for each of us. You see He was around people almost all the time, after all crowds followed Him everywhere, and He spent many of His days teaching the masses for hours on end! However, we are told several times throughout the Gospels that Jesus early in the morning ‘departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35b)

If Jesus our Lord and savior took time to get alone with the Lord and pray, I think it is essential for us to this as well. A great way to do this for me, as I have discovered recently, I to go out into God’s beautiful outdoor creation and spend time in prayer with Him, as well as participating in one of my recent hobbies of photography.

I have come to cherish this time of late. I have begun to at least once every couple of weeks, consciously take time to go out by myself to a park, or even just out of for a walk in my neighborhood, for 45 minutes to an hour and take pictures, as well as worship God for the beauty that is all around me. Springtime in Cleveland Ohio is a great time for this, as the sun finally starts to appear on a regular basis, and the trees leaves with their varying shades of spring greens provide quite a canvas in the background of one’s worship and prayer session!

What I have noticed is that I return from these hour long adventures, with a refreshed feeling that is unique and like that of being cleaned out within my heart. Oh I am not saying that all of my worries, concerns and fears simply melt away or anything, but the courage to face them, with Jesus’ help of course, is strengthened and renewed!

Not always does it need to be a time spent by yourself in prayer either, as going to a movie by oneself can be as beneficial to our heart’s health as a walk alone spent with the Lord. God can speak to us through both.

I plan to continue to do this from this point foreword in my life, as these recent weeks have been much more peaceful and enjoyable than I have had in quite some time!