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About 10 years ago, I read an article about a woman who lived in complete solitude. She lived in a lookout deep in a national forest and watched for wildfires. Her only visitors were backpackers or the occasional person who brought her supplies. She had found contentment in solitude.
When I first read this story it really bothered me. It wasn’t because I disagreed with her lifestyle, but at that point in my life I feared solitude. I couldn’t imagine not being around people or friends, and only having yourself and your own thoughts for company.
I lived a very busy life. At one point I was the Development Director at a local non-profit, a Campaign Manager for a State Representative, and a Graphic Design instructor at a community college. It was during this time that I really struggled with anxiety, but instead of slowing down to take care of myself, I piled more on as a distraction. Avoiding solitude at all costs.
Facing my fear
After getting married and moving to the Sandhills of Nebraska, I came face to face with my own fear. Solitude. Complete solitude somedays. My first year of marriage was difficult for this reason. I busied myself with house and garden projects, ranchwork, animals. All of it wonderful, but still running from that one word. Solitude.
I still dealt with anxiety and I came to a point that I needed to face this head on. I began to embrace my days alone. My ability to think clearly without distraction. It took time to transition, but now I could never go back. I am healthy. Now I can just be still.
Contentment in Solitude
I believe solitude is where God speaks to us the loudest because we can hear His voice. Of course, having a baby changes everything again, but we still have our solitude. It’s not something to run from, but to run to. I embraced it. My fear of fear itself began to fade.
I cherish my days at home. Although I love seeing friends and family, most days I can’t wait to get back home to my own quiet space.
As a rancher’s wife, we still have moments (or weeks/months) of stress, moments that cause anxiety, but it is bearable. What overshadows all of that is the stillness when you pause to listen. Now I know how the lady in the forest felt, finding contentment in solitude. She was just happy to be.
Enjoy solitude. Be still.