Thursday, March 1, 2018

Invitation to Solitude & Silence * Book Open House #5

Dear Solitude Seekers ~

Well, here we are, in the home stretch of our Invitation to Solitude & Silence journey.

It's been quite a ride, hasn't it.  I know some of you have been concerned that you weren't 'keeping up' with the weekly postings.  But that's absolutely fine.  The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint, and we're wise to continue the journey at a speed that we find comfortable, keeping in step with the Author and Finisher of our faith, and paying close attention to His whispered prompting for our individual next right steps.

They will always draw you closer to Jesus.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we're settling down and looking inward.  Perhaps you're not quite sure you like what you're seeing.  Throw discouragement to the wind, friend.  Listen to the Spirit's still, small voice.  Name the obstacles that keep you from drawing closer to Christ and be courageous enough to make those hard decisions on what you want to do with what you're discovering.

No one said it would be easy.  But the good news is that you are not alone.

My friend Ceil has been a big encouragement to me since day one of this trek ... and you must head over to her place to find out what she's doing with what God is inviting her to.  My admiration knows no bounds.

Author Ruth Haley Barton muses ...

Chapter 9 - Facing Ourselves
When we find ourselves in the rugged terrain of deeper self-knowledge, we may feel very alone, we may feel ashamed, we may feel as if we are the only ones who have ever had to experience such a soul-shaking experience.  For some of us - especially those of us who have been Christians for a long time - the view of the self that we gain in solitude is shocking.  We thought we were better off than that!  We thought we had come farther.  

By now we have a lot riding on our ability to keep those false expressions of ourselves under cover.  What's more, we're not sure there is any other self than the self we have constructed in reaction to the wounds and pains of our life.  We have identified with this adapted self for so long and so relied on its energy to propel us forward that we don't know who we will be if this self dies.  It is the only self we have ever known.  Suddenly it is a very precarious cliff we're standing on, this place where God has instructed us to stand and wait.

Chapter 10 - Pure Presence
Accompanying this self-awareness is a desperate desire for healing and communion that is painful in its intensity.  To truly see, with the eyes of the soul, our need for transformation at the very core of our being elicits a longing that is beyond words.  This part of the spiritual process is so demanding that we may be sorely tempted to turn back.  The problem with this possibility is that there is no place to go back to once we have seen ourselves for who we are, enslaved to patterns of relating and being and doing that are ultimately antithetical to the life we are seeking ...

It does not good to try and fix what we see.  It is useless to make excuses for what we see.  It is cowardly to blame others for what we see.  And denying what we see just puts us right back in the mess.  The only thing we can do is to keep our whole selves turned toward God even as we endure the grief and unsettledness that the seeing brings.

Let's talk, friends.  And yes, you are invited to the table even if you're behind on your reading ... or aren't reading the book at all.

Give yourself grace ...

Beyond Words

Dangerously Tired

Book Open House #3
Rest for the Body
Rest for the Mind

Book Open House #4
Rest for the Soul

Book Open House Conclusion
Receiving Guidance
For the Sake of Others




  1. Facing ourselves is one of the hardest things a person can do. That must be why so few do. Nouwen’s quote in the beginning of Chap 9 says it we choose to be alone we will encounter the struggle against the compulsions of the false self and the encounter with the loving God...The book that helped me with this, believe it or not, is Dr. Phil's Self Matters. It sounds selfish but it is all. It is about the authentic self vs the fake self we think everybody needs to see. That book was a life preserver in the 2000s.

    I agree that once we see ourselves for who we are, there is no turning back. Facing God with all our pimples and bruises works!

    1. Looking in our own mirror, so to speak, can be pretty tough stuff. But if we don't allow God to do the work that's waiting to be done, we stay stuck or wander around in circles.

      And yes, sometimes secular books can help enlighten. As long as we keep our biblical worldview as the lens through which we read and examine, we'll be guided to His truth.

      He speaks in surprising ways, doesn't He ...

  2. I was so awed and impressed, too, how Ceil opened her heart to God's personal invitation and is following His leading in it all. It sounds like these two chapters dig deep into who we really are. It's giving me pause for reflection. Self-examination can be so hard, but it's so necessary, isn't it? Love and hugs to you, Linda!

    1. I'm thinking that there might be a ripple effect to Ceil's decision. She's a godly woman with great influence. Her choice gives us cause for pause ...

  3. Linda,
    With regard to "facing myself," I always think that I've come farther than I have. Then, when I'm made to really look at myself, I realize there's so much more ground to cover. It's also not a continually upward climb. Like a corporate sales chart, it's filled with dips, plunges, and eventual spurts of growth. I do agree that we need silence and solitude and time in God's presence to really take an honest inventory.
    Bev xx

    1. A corporate sales chart ... yeah, I can relate, Bev!

      And an honest inventory is hard work. It's not for the faint of heart and we're not usually all that excited about what we know we need to face.

      No wonder we put it off time and again ...


  4. Yes, so true - there is no turning back once we have seen and experienced the raw truth about ourselves and our nature. May we trust where and how God is leading us on the paths of our own uncertainty.
    Blessings, everyone!

  5. I'm not reading the book, but am glad for the invitation to draw up to the table. Love this: "The only thing we can do is to keep our whole selves turned toward God." I'm curious now about what Ceil is doing. Headed over there. I haven't visited her blog in a long time. <3

  6. The whole book has brought to light the feeling that somehow Ruth has listened in on my life. It's not a bad thing but instead it's very convicting.

    I am involved in discipleship work this year. As a leader facilitating the growth of other disciples and as a person who needs to grow in who she is as part of a leadership cohort. The message that is consistent is knowing who we are - our identity. The process digs deep if you let it and causes me to reflect on the parts of me that I'm not always sure I like. In Ch. 9, Ruth speaks about keeping those false impressions of who we are alive. What I know is that it's what I have done for years. God chose wisely when He gave me the word surrender this year because I need to live out my true identity. The beautiful, gentle, wise person God created me to be. Love this book! What a good choice.

    1. You said this, Mary, and it made me smile in agreement --> 'somehow Ruth has listened in on my life. It's not a bad thing but instead it's very convicting.'

      Absolutely. It's like meeting with a spiritual director or a very wise mentor. She GETS where we're coming from, having made her way through this invitation herself.

      I'm so glad this book is dovetailing into the discipleship leadership role you've embraced ... I bet it's a natural fit for who you've been shaped to be. And don't you just love when your reading adds to the ministry God's called you to?!

  7. Hi Linda! Thank you for your kind words here, and I have to thank you too. This book has been all kinds of encouragement and affirmation for me. I just love it. I think it's one that I'll keep reading over and over again at different times in my life. The authors 'voice' is so true and even.

    "We thought we were better than that." No kidding! I have found that there are many, many ways that I can try to become closer to the Lord, and I'm just not doing them. I'd like to start with more study of the New Testament. I've always been a great admirer of St. Paul and David's Psalms, but now I think it's high time to read the Gospels. I can do better than I am now in examining the life of Christ.

    Hoping your having a wonderful Sunday,

    1. I absolutely resonate with your words, Ceil, because that's been my story and experience, too --> 'This book has been all kinds of encouragement and affirmation for me.'

      And yes, it's been a re-read in my life as well, speaking to different areas in various seasons.

      Thanks for being here, for continuing the conversation with us all. I'm grateful to have you share your wisdom ... and anticipate what God has in store for you as you've been so obedient to His leading.

  8. Chapter 10 speaks to me.. your posts are always so edifying! <3 -

    1. I'm grateful you find some spiritual food here, friend ...

  9. I liked how she suggested asking "What are you doing here, _______?" I was surprised by my answer. I know I need more time with this question especially in listening for God's response.

    1. Yeah, when we get surprised by our answers, we know that something big is happening ... or about to!

  10. How powerfully true her words in Chapter 9. Shame seems to cling to us like barnacles on a ship and we remain convinced (even after Jesus) that who we really are will be rejected by those we relate with or hope to relate with. The enemy of us all has skillfully left his mark on us in this, but only when we come to the whole truth in the light of Christ can we be free because we discover we are loved absolutely and unconditionally. When we discover the open arms of Jesus, we will know what home is and was always supposed to be.

    Have a blessed week! I pray the storms did not upend you over the end of last week and the weekend.


    1. 'we are loved absolutely and unconditionally.'

      Yes, yes, Pam. And isn't that exactly what we've been yearning for all along?!

      Indeed, He is home, sweet, home for the weary soul ...

  11. Feeling safe enough to risk exposing who I really am and not trying to make excuses or just hide.
    Yeah, that got me. I spend so much time trying to project who I want to be that even I start believing the lie. Didn't even really know this was going on!

    1. I love that you're calling the lie exactly what it is, Sarah.

      Freedom awaits ...

      Go for it!

  12. Grace is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to one another!

    1. Amen ... that unmerited favor is truly awesome to give ... and receive.