Day 12

Solitude and Community

from the Mourning and Dancing reading plan

Psalm 46:10, Lamentations 3:25-28, Mark 6:30-32, Matthew 11:25-30, Hebrews 10:23-25, Psalm 133:1, Matthew 18:20, Romans 12:4-5, Romans 12:15-19

BY Rebecca Faires

I didn’t adopt because I wanted to make orphans miserable. But in the bumpy jostle of daily family life, between Don’t wake the baby! and Everyone get in bed!, I feel like I’m failing. We pursued adoption because we wanted to help—we wanted to make the world a better place, to shine the light of the gospel. But I didn’t know I would need to shine the light of the gospel at 5am, every day, for so many years. In the process, my flashlight has grown dull and weak.

Every day, my husband and I feel the pendulum swing between the tension of Christ’s invitation to “come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while,” and His admonition to “meet together” in fellowship (Mark 6:31; Hebrews 10:25). After one too many family activities ending in disaster, we’ve learned to let our wounds heal in private and decline the next dinner invitation.

Adoptive parenting has been the most difficult task of my life. It’s been astonishingly isolating, because from the outside, we look like an adorable, bustling, young family. But underneath, I’m clenching my teeth, waiting for the shoe to drop and the next terrible thing to happen. During this season, we’ve felt the tension of pulling out of community activities, playdates, dinners, and visits with family. And I fear that folks won’t understand we are dealing with more than just a case of the wiggles.

But in pulling away from community, we miss out on the real, loving, encouragement and affirmation we need from our people. We imagine disapproval in their eyes and judgment on their brows. Again and again, I have wanted to hide our messy family life because I am sure no one will understand.

One May day just a few years ago, my very, very cute adopted son was singing—with perfect pitch—a Christmas song, while I stood in the checkout line at Goodwill. He has a face like a chipmunk and a voice like a chorister, and he knows it. He’d been singing that song for weeks, and now he was shining his face around to draw the attention and approval of the other adults standing nearby. His endless fishing for applause from strangers touches on my fear that he’s still not quite settled on us as his parents; he’s still interviewing for the position.

Although we can never erase the brokenness that led to his birth parents’ inability to raise him, we are the parents that God has given him. In spite of my commitment to love him, his singing was exhausting and painful at the end of a draining day—on top of six wearying years. For me, his song felt like a jarring syncopation, rattling out the death of my dreams. I asked him to stop singing.

At my left elbow, a woman snorted and leaned away from me. “That sweet little boy wasn’t hurting anything. You should know better than to stop him from singing!” she admonished, shaking her head and looking away. I felt my tired shoulders slump lower, even more resolved to hide our troubled story.

And we have found relief and safety in solitude. We’ve been able to rally our forces and find heart for the next fight. But pulling away from community robs us of its gifts, and neglecting solitude robs us of its replenishing powers.

So we live in the in-between tension of the two. We live like a child on a swing, swaying out a little further and retreating a little further, learning to trust our community and learning to accept the peace of solitude.The further we venture out, the deeper we need to retreat afterward. We don’t have an easy solution, but I am sure about which direction to look for hope. “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says (Matthew 11:28). But in this in-between, our hearts are broken every single day. We are rejected and we are befriended. We are lonely and we are loved.

Post Comments (122)

122 thoughts on "Solitude and Community"

  1. Lynda Miller says:

    When I lost my husband I experienced a loss of community. No one knew what to say. I was so devastated I didn’t know what I needed from anyone. I turned my focus on my son, who had found his dad (he had a massive heart attack). So I just put on a mask of being okay and soldiered on. I realize that life goes on but it was very difficult to be left behind. I don’t think anyone purposely left me behind. It just seemed to happen. The COVID brought more isolation. This year I fell apart. But God and I found my way through and my focus now isn’t on my loss but on the adventures He is showing me. (Not romance but working in His Kingdom and sharing what I have learned).

  2. Madison Luber says:

    I have been struggling a lot with this balance of solitude and community. I moved across the country away from everyone that has ever loved me last year and in this season of intense, deep, deep struggle (physical and mental health, work stress, pandemic, relationships ending…) I have felt even more alone. I have felt the lack of deep friendship and a strong support system. I have felt confused as to why I feel so alone. I feel lonely and behind. And yet I know I have a strong support system elsewhere but I still struggle to feel physically supported. It was nice to read a devo from someone who was still in-progress. Most of these devos read as someone who has “made it out on the other side”, when that is usually not where I am. They can make me feel even more isolated. This was a godsend.

  3. Virginia Mhasvi says:

    Oh yes. There is some serious tension between community and solitude. I pray that God helps me find a good balance because I tend to lean on one side more than the other!

  4. Tamara Doyle says:

    This season has brought a lot of solitude by necessity, but also a deeper sense of community in unexpected ways. I’m FaceTiming more often with family. I’m connecting on Marco Polo and getting to know women in my church on a deeper level, because we have been forced to slow down and actually have the time to put into investing in new and deeper relationships. For that I am thankful. I’m also trying to be intentional about leaning into the Lord in the quiet and the solitude, soaking up chunks of His Word at a time.

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