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 (120)

120 thoughts on "Solitude and Community"

  1. Laura Smail says:

    Wow. I’m not a parent, but I can relate on so many levels to the tension you described between solitude and community. I’m going through a season where I just want to hide, but I know that hiding doesn’t bring healing. Thank you for honestly sharing your struggles. It helps to know that I am not alone in this struggle.

  2. Ashley Wurtz says:

    My family is a blinded family. It is full of God’s redemption. It has truly beautiful moments and I constantly see the hand of God and His blessings often. However the first two years drained me spiritually and I often felt exhausted, drained, and undone. I pulled back often into solitude because there were too family hearts adjusting to our new normal. Now four years in I am able to enjoy more community. My husband and I have learned that though the outside world may not understand some seasons are sweeter inside the walls of our home than outside amongst the larger community.

  3. Liz T. says:

    Thank you for sharing this particular message. I’m sitting in a hospital bed- caring for my mother who was hospitalized but is now doing better, as my dad sleeps behind us in the arm chair- he has dementia. I was able to share this beautiful and true message with my mom today to bring her encouragement and it definitely brought me some too. Thank you again for this reminder.

  4. Sue says:

    Churchmouse your words are a balm to my soul this morning. Indeed, being a momma is hard and holy, even with adult children. Thank you for your wisdom and for your encouragement to walk another day on holy ground with God’s grace.

  5. Churchmouse says:

    July 29, 2016 is the date I posted a comment to this devotional when I first did this study. I just reread it and smiled – the sentiment remains true today.

    Being a momma is hard and holy, regardless of the age of the momma or the children. And we are often so hard on ourselves when God has an abundance of grace. Grab onto His grace! He sees your efforts and He is so pleased you are keeping on and pressing in, especially when the results of those efforts don’t look at all successful. In every battle there is a strategy that involves a balance between advancing and retreating. So it is with parenting – and really with any ministry we are in. There is a time to charge forward and there is a time to regroup. Both are exactly right and appropriate. Neither is worthy of any condemnation. Not by those in the throes of the battle and certainly not by observers. I was recently told to never value the opinions of those in the cheap seats over those who are sweating in the game. Wisdom!

    Mommas, each stage of your child’s life brings its own challenges and its own joys. Relish each. Be kind to yourself. You’ve never walked this particular journey before. Know that it is holy ground even, and especially, when it looks so messy. God chose you to parent this child, these children, and He did not make a wrong choice.

    Deep breath. Grab grace. Belly laugh. Shed tears. Cry out. Hold tight to His hand. You can do all things through Him who gives you strength. Don’t look beyond this day. Just do today. He is with you and He is pleased. Really. He is. He loves you. You are the apple of His eye. You’re a good momma. He’s a good good Father. Together, you’ve got this.

    1. Sarabeth Segars says:

      ❤️

    2. Karlie Nesson says:

      You are a blessing ChurchMouse ❤️

    3. Kelly Engle says:

      Wow, so beautifully written ❤️. Thank you for sharing. This is the reminder I needed today.

    4. Anna Simpson says:

      I needed this so much today. The devotional and this comment. God led me here today.. these words are his voice ❤️

    5. Cathy Tubby says:

      Crying over here. Thank you for those much needed words.

    6. Rachel Rannals says:

      Man I needed this reminder!! The reminder that each stage with a child is new and we have never done it before. We really do need to give ourselves more grace that Christ so freely gives!

  6. Marlyne says:

    Thank you for these scripture and the writing of testimony. I learned a lot I need a balance between fellowship and solitude. Right now I’m mostly off to myself. I know what I need time silent time with God and balance sometime to be around my family, friends, and church family. I tend to isolate. Lord I thank you for this.

  7. Esther says:

    It looks like it was written by Rebecca Faires :)

  8. Kimberly Martinson says:

    It doesn’t say who wrote this; needing to keep family members anonymous is another form of deep solitude. I understand! I felt so much of this. I don’t know who you are, but I wish I did.

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