It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on the eve of my Apprenticeship at The Way beginning. Full of nerves, unsettlement, doubts, and excitement. Who would I meet? What would I learn? How would I get along with the other Apprentices? Would I know enough? Would God meet me there, and move in a way I’d never experienced? Luckily for me, He met me exactly where I was, and then some.
I’ve just completed my first month in the Apprenticeship with The Way OC. Our first month was centered around the practice of Silence + Solitude, and integrating that fully into our lives as a daily practice. My experience with the practice was, more than anything, a triumph in truly believing in God’s provision, even when I couldn’t see it. Looking back on the month now, I fully see God’s hand in every part of this journey. From the good, the great, the terrible, and the downright debilitating. It was quite the October.
My plan was to spend 10 minutes the first week, 20 minutes the second, 30 minutes the third, and continue at 30 minutes for the fourth every single day to build up a rhythm. I knew I couldn’t just jump into it, because that’s not sustainable. The first week/two weeks I was pretty solid- missing a bit here and there, but overall intentionally creating space for God to meet with me every day. It was eye-opening to say the least. While I didn’t “hear” something every single day, the singular practice of slowing down my brain enough to give myself space to rest and the Holy Spirit an opportunity to rest on me was beautiful, and something I’ve learned is so wholly needed but so intensely avoided.
I realized we don’t, as a society, like to sit in silence and solitude because we feel an extreme FOMO. We feel that we are missing out on the world passing us by, on plans being made, on goals being accomplished. I, for one, am an accomplishments-driven person. However, God challenged that within me this month- and I’m so glad He did. When we stop gauging our own accomplishments as markers for our worth, we stop judging others by that same way. And for me, that showed up in the way I interacted with people this past month- sweeter, more compassionate, and more grace-giving. It wasn’t perfect, but its a start.
Now’s here where my best-laid plans took a turn, and where God showed up in a big way:
About half way through the month, I was feeling GREAT. On fire, in tune, aligned with what I felt like God was saying. Nothing could stop me from getting my planned time each day, in the exact way I planned it.
Nothing, except a migraine.
For those who have never experienced a migraine, let me describe it for you: it’s debilitating. You are nauseous, light-headed, dizzy, vertigo-inflicted, head pounding, unable to stand, daggers going through your brain every which way. I thought I got migraines in college, but when this happened it was clear I’d never truly experienced one. It was debilitating. I missed three days of work, and was completely disconnected from my previously-created rhythm. I spent days laying in bed, in the dark, unable to do anything. While the first three days were the worst, I was knocked out for about a week. I had friends driving me places, doctors appointments, and just all-around stupendous physical pain.
But here’s the interesting thing: the fire in my soul didn’t go out. Whenever someone asked me how I was doing, my first thought was to say, because I was confident in it, “You know, physically I’m struggling but God is so good.” And when I first said it, I had the thought of, wow that sounds rather fake given how my life looks from the outside. But the more I thought about it, that first inclination was really where my heart was (and still is) at. Physically my body was struggling, but I was being fed a different way. A way that relied on heavenly provision rather than earthly comfort. Is that to say that He took away my pain when I wanted Him to? No- I was down-for-the-count for days. But, it was a beautiful week of realizing that flesh can crumble away, but I’m good. And He’s good.
The migraine and what came from it also helped me in another way: my perfectionism. I would label myself a perfectionist- I like order, I thrive on rhythm, and love schedules. When my migraine hit, I couldn’t have my S+S time the same way as I had. Prior, I had a comfy blanket I’d lay out on the floor, some meaningful trinkets that I’d sit next to me, and my bible, and I would engage. But with the migraine, I was in my bed most of the time and didn’t have the energy to engage like that. In the midst of it I was talking to God and saying that I was upset that I wasn’t engaging in the practice the way I thought was right. I was annoyed at the interruption. But, looking back now, God met me the same way within the migraine that he met me outside of it, I just didn’t pay attention. Almost as if to say, “No matter which way we meet, I’m here.” Looking back now, I was still engaging with S+S, just in a different way, and in a way that still brought me to God. And for a perfectionist like myself, that was an amazing and grace-giving realization.
The rest of the month up until now has been rather uneventful. Silence + Solitude, while not done every day, continue to be something that fills me when I do it, and something that heightens my alignment to God. In the Bible it is noted many times how Jesus retreated for time alone to sustain himself while on this earth, so in my head, if Jesus needed it, I for sure need it exponentially more. I’m excited to keep this within my rhythm of life and to open the door to allow God to speak even more in my life.
My takeaways from this month of intentionality are things I’ll carry with me for a long time to come. Some of those are below:
- Vulnerability begins when you shed your armor in front of the one you know could demolish you, but that you trust won’t.
- Gratitude and Grief are not mutually exclusive, and the Father has a heart for it all.
- Sometimes the things that cause our emptiness are things we can’t comprehend until we face them in silence.
- We live our lives as reactionary to the shame + condemnation we feel from society- yet solitude requires us to dismiss all of that from our headspace and replace it solely with grace. This opposition to our surrounding society causes a deep chaos that can only be dealt with by pushing through it, on the grace + strength of the Father alone.
- The biggest fight we face in solitude + silence is believing the truth of our identity- past the world’s interpretations, past our friend’s opinions, past family’s expectations – and root deep within the love of the Father.
- Obedience is God’s love language, and is mutually beneficial- and even more so for us, because it puts us in alignment with His most excellent way for our lives.
The next Way OC Gathering is TOMORROW, November 2nd, at 7PM at Vanguard University. It’s free, and awesome, and I’d encourage you to go. John Mark Comer will be back discussing Sabbath, and how we can Apprentice to Jesus in the way in which we practice and make time for Sabbath.
For more information, click here.