I’d like to think that I was “in the know” about Judah & the Lion. I’d also like to think that I was that guy who listened to them before they were popular or whatever, but let’s just be honest here… I’m not that guy. Judah & the Lion is an excellent band, if you don’t know who they are, and I highly recommend them. In fact, they are coming to Oklahoma Christian University January 30th. So turn up for that. In their newest album, “Kids These Days”, one of the songs in particular stuck out to me. It’s called “Scared.” The singer tells us of everything he’s scared of, like “Snakes… Bugs in my bed… and Vampires that fall in love…” but he goes on to say that there’s one thing he’s not scared of. He’s “not scared of being alone.”
When I first heard that song, I thought to myself, “We introverts have finally found a rallying cry!” In fact, I got a little puffed up, because in some weird way I thought I was better than most due to my “amazing” ability to be alone. Reflecting now on the song, it has become rather apparent that even when I am alone, that I am not truly alone. I’ll always play some music on Spotify, or read a book. Or get on Facebook. So even when I am alone, I am not really alone by myself; something else is always running through my head, distracting my mind. I have respect for those who can truly be alone with their thoughts for extended periods of time.
I think many people are scared of being alone, contrary to how Judah & the Lion feels, but I think it’s true for most. People don’t like to be by themselves, even introverts (I’m an introvert, I would know…), for long periods of time. There’s probably lots of reasons why people don’t like to be alone. Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher in the mid-17th century, had a lot to say about what drives people. His big idea about life was essentially that everyone wants to be happy, and every action of every person attempts to drive them towards a state of greater happiness. So why would people not seek to be alone? Pascal says when we are alone, we are stuck with ourselves and our thoughts, and many people cannot stand to be bored, because that’s when the difficulties of life come into focus. He says succinctly, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” That’s tough to hear, isn’t it?
So why should we seek to be alone with our thoughts in the first place? I would like to offer three reasons…
1. We remind ourselves of what’s most important to us.
Whatever your mind tends to stray to when you’re alone will usually reveal what’s most important to you. Do you think about your family? Do you think about your significant other? Or do you think about school? Do you think about your favorite sports team? I don’t know what you personally will think of when you’re alone, but I bet it will be what’s most important to you.
2. We give ourselves the opportunity to change where we are going.
If you never find out what’s important to you, what’s driving you in life, how will you know where you are going? When we give ourselves the time to actually sit down and think about what’s most important, we usually discover what is most important to our lives. Sometimes, however, that one thing that is most important to us now, is not what we really want it to be. Sometimes we place more value on results (getting the good grade, making lots of money, etc.) than we do on relationships. It’s a natural thing to do, for our hearts consistently make finite things try to fill an infinite space. But when we are alone, we can identify those things, and reorder our lives to better fit where we want to go.
3. We allow ourselves to make the important decisions.
How can we make important decisions, if we spend the majority of our “alone” time on Facebook, or Twitter? Social media robs people of deep thinking and opportunities for good and wise decisions to be made. If you discover that what’s most important to you now, is not what you desire it to be, then you have the ability to change it! But spending your thoughts by mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds will bring you no closer to making a good decision.
You see, when we are truly alone, we find out what’s most important to us, and what needs to be dealt with. But most people avoid this because it truly is hard to face up to yourself and find out what is driving you. So my encouragement to you, dear reader? Find some time this season to be alone. Find some time to truly sift through your thoughts and figure out what is driving you. I think you might be surprised. Write down what’s most important to you (seriously, make a list of the things that are most important to you. I am going to do it, right after I post this blog), and if you don’t like it, then good news! New Year’s is around the corner, and New Year’s is a great time for beginning a change.
To my fellow Christians, I offer the same advice. Spend some time alone with your thoughts. I’ve found that when I do so, God tends to reveal idols in my life. After all, when we obsess over anything other than God, isn’t that an idol? I’ve also discovered that I find out what God wants me to do. When I’m alone, the things I know I need to do float to my mind, most certainly by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Besides, we see in scripture multiple times where Jesus seeks time to be alone, so he can talk to the Father (Luke 5:16). So carve out some time in your schedule to get alone, whether that means waking up an extra 30 minutes earlier, or going to bed a little later.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that we should all (I am definitely included) seek to find time to get by ourselves and to think. Just think about what’s most important, whether we should change that or not, and then to finally do something and to act on what’s most important. We shouldn’t be scared to do so either, nor should we avoid it because it is hard (although, I am certainly guilty of both), because the rewards of making wise decisions far outweighs the temporary relief of avoiding hard things.