Can you all just leave me alone?

I always kept my door locked. Even when I was in the room and awake. Even if I was not studying, trying to focus, trying to sleep, or trying to get something done. Even if I was just watching another episode of SportsCenter while scarfing down lunch in between classes. In 2009, living in a fraternity house with 27 guys, there was always someone to hang out with. Regardless of the time of day, guys popped in and out of each other’s rooms constantly. Most guys left their doors wide open when they were home, happy to have someone come sit on the couch to shoot the breeze with.

Me? You could knock on my locked door.

door_locked

If I wanted some time to myself, I would often just ignore the knocking while smiling to myself. I would revel in those few moments of solitude in the midst of a schedule packed full of nothing but people from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed.

I thought I didn’t get much time to myself back then.

Hysterical.

Fast forward six years: I have not had a meal to myself, taken a car ride, or even taken a shower by myself. In six years.

People often ask me what the first thing I would do with a physically restored body and independence would be. Some may assume I would opt to go for a run, play a round of golf, or go for a drive. Me? After hugging my fiancée for the first time, I would get away. Alone. I would spend a week in a cabin in the woods by myself. Not talk to anyone. Henry David Thoreau style.

In the 1850s Thoreau ventured to Walden Pond. He wanted to learn about life, get a perspective shift, and find some new revelation. Going to the woods allowed him to reflect on the desire to “live deep and suck the marrow out of life.”

Similarly, Jesus often withdrew from the crowd for some solitude. Even being God in the flesh, he still needed time to recharge, pray, and be with his Father.

cabin

With severely limited time to myself, it is often hard to even collect my thoughts. For the better part of this year in particular I’ve needed assistance with stretching my arms out due to muscle tightness and with shifting my weight in the chair multiple times every hour during the day. This leaves minimal time to focus long enough to accomplish much, let alone to start to think or pray.

I read about Jesus saying something simple, such as “go into your room, close the door and pray to God in secret,” and can’t help but get frustrated. How am I supposed to do that without ever getting substantial alone time?

Regardless of my physical status, I don’t want to make excuses. Although a cabin may not be feasible at the moment, I still need to recognize and take advantage of any opportunity on my own to think, contemplate, and pray- even if it’s slightly more complicated right now.

For the longest time waking up in the middle of the night drove me crazy. However, recently it dawned on me that it is essentially the only time I am able to have time to myself without needing to call someone into the room. I can lay there in peace contemplating, reflecting, and praying.

Maybe waking up in the middle of the night has been a blessing after all. Maybe instead of getting frustrated I can learn from Jesus’s example and take full advantage of every chance I do get on my own, regardless of how limited it may be. Maybe this perspective gives me a chance to open my eyes and appreciate the moments of solitude I do get.

Now excuse me while I take advantage of the next 30 minutes by myself.

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3 thoughts on “Can you all just leave me alone?

  1. Hi Ryan,

    I liked your post “Can you all just leave me alone.” You are not unique in lack of alone time, it’s just some of us don’t know it.

    Like now, I think I’m “alone” sitting upstairs at Crossroads catching up on email over coffee before heading off for my day. I’m even talking to God in prayer (sometimes). However, people come by to say hi, I’ve got my computer in front of me, I’ve got my cell phone beside me, I’ve got my coffee I sip on, I’m thinking about what all I need to accomplish today. Alone time … NOT!

    Even in intentional prayer time, I often have the radio on or some other background distraction keeping me from focusing on God, keeping me from listening to God.

    Many of us, me especially, need to be left alone from our man made distractions to hear the wonder-filled voice of God in our lives.

    Bless you for reminding me of this today.

    Ann Boland

  2. As is your forte, Ryan, you again give us the gift of perspective. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and opening our eyes to the gift of solitude. Love how you have shifted what was an annoyance, re: waking up at night, to now see it as a blessing to gain time alone with your own thoughts. May we all do the same when it comes to our own lives, and those things we are tempted to be annoyed with. Lord, grant us YOUR perspective and heart. Love and appreciate you, bro!

  3. Ryan, thanks so much for PERSPECTIVE and for a swift kick in the butt to GET OUTSIDE, ALONE. I can’t say that I ‘understand’. But it sounds like you and I have the same way of really connecting with God – outdoors – alone – for a while… until my head gets cleared of the daily junk that’s keeping it busy with things that aren’t truly important.

    I KEEP saying that I need to get outside and connect with God. Seriously, I have been saying it for months upon months. Things for me have changed from what I was used to in terms of REALLY getting out into the WILDERNESS. The wilderness before was truly wild places, where a cell phone wouldn’t work, there would be NO TV, and I could be ‘fully present’. I do miss those days. It just looks different now, but I can still do it.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. And thanks for showing how you flipped something that seemed annoying into something enjoyable.

    You are one of a kind! God bless you. And Happy Thanksgiving to you, Stephanie, and your families.
    Virginia

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