Loneliness and solitude are two things not to get confused:
because I spend my solitude with You.
--Therapy, Reliant K
This weekend, I got to go on a really unique and amazing retreat. There were only 8 of us, unlike most retreats I've been to that typically have like 40 to 200 people. It was led by our wonderful priest, Fr. Jeremy, and two of the coolest Sisters in the whole wide world, Sr. Regina Marie and Sr. Magdalena Marie.
Retreats are totally awesome, but they're also really, really hard. They demand that you ask questions you put off for weeks, months...even years. For example...
Who am I? Who is God? What do I want? Why am I here? What does God want from me, and will He ask too much? What if it hurts? What if it's terrifying? What about X, Y, and Z back home? What if I feel nothing? What if I waste the opportunity?
My experience on this retreat contained all that, but one thing that really stood out to me was that I felt lonely. And that happens to me a lot. I just feel so achingly lonely as I watch all the other girls walk together and chat about life back home. I've never had that. I love being with people, but I often end up the loner. No one purposefully excludes me, it just happens.
So I start thinking about friends and family back home, and wish they were around, and wish for conversations and hugs that I'm not experiencing.
A fear that also finds itself nestled in that loneliness is the fear that when I'm alone, I've lost my identity. We let our environment define us more often than we let God.
But, on this retreat, we were encouraged to seek some alone time. We had two or three periods where we were all just sent off on our own to pray any way we felt. As I walked in that same somewhat lonely solitude, praying the Stations of the Cross at our beautiful retreat site, I came to a real understanding about that recurring loneliness I have.
No one can fill it but God. It will always be there, until I give it to God for Him to fill to the brim.
And that makes it something really beautiful.
God bless you : )