I’ve had it to here
Bein’ where love’s a small word,
Part-time thing, paper ring.
I know it’s been done
Havin’ one girl who’ll love me,
Right or wrong, weak or strong.
Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
The girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me,
I’ll be what I am –
A solitary man,
—Neil Diamond, “Solitary Man”
I think that sooner or later, everyone has a “Solitary Man” moment. It’s the moment when you finally say “Enough!” and stop compromising your heart in an attempt to be loved. I thought of this after reading John’s many posts about the role of pain in our lives. It’s usually pain that catalyzes the decision to be a solitary man or woman. The heart gets bruised or broken one time too many and then BOOM. A great big healthy “NO” is born. And not only is this “NO” healthy, it’s vital to fellowship with God.
I’ve written about my “Solitary Man” moment before, but I didn’t talk about the aftermath. I found my “NO” and discovered that the world didn’t end just because I was alone. In the weeks and months that followed, I experienced joy in solitude – something that had seemed impossible. It wasn’t just that I was okay with being alone; I was actively enjoying it.
I went to the movies by myself. I spent hours in the park just being – by myself. Scariest of all, I took myself out to dinner. And I don’t mean that I took a book to the Waffle House counter (though I quite enjoyed those outings, too). I went to a fairly nice restaurant, full of couples and quartets and parties, and I had dinner. No book. No smartphone. Just me.
It was awesome.
I was really nervous at first, and I didn’t know where to look or how to arrange my face. “Should I smile? Is that weird? Do I look deranged? Maybe just a blank look instead. Nuts! Now I can’t remember how to look blank! Why are my eyebrows still raised? I feel like Jack Nicholson’s doppelganger here – gah!” After a few minutes of this, I realized that my face had been mirroring these thoughts all along, and a few people were glancing my way with a touch of alarm. I burst out laughing, accepted that they already thought I was crazy, and settled down. And when I did, I discovered something quite wonderful: I really liked LIFE. Specifically, I liked MY life.
From “Solitary Man” to Fellowship
That was years ago, but I still enjoy taking myself out from time to time. You may be wondering what this has to do with fellowship, and it’s simple. Until we let the pain of life form a healthy “NO” in our hearts and embrace the uncompromised option of solitude over abuse-masquerading-as-love, we have no room in our hearts for fellowship…and we don’t appreciate it either.
When we stop lying to ourselves about who loves us and who doesn’t, we’re preparing the ground for a True Love encounter. When we begin to inhabit the life we’ve been given in solitary quietude, we take a step toward receiving ourselves as we are—without distraction or deception. And in that honest hush, we meet ourselves as never before, seeing more clearly what we’re made of – what makes us tick.
Sitting alone at that table, surrounded by laughing people secure in their parties, I discovered that I didn’t need a companion, or a book, or a distraction. I liked how the world felt now that I knew I could be alone in a crowd and still have peace. I decided that I liked the way my brain worked. And I wondered if the One who made my brain would ever like me, too.
It’s funny how the mind tends to wander in the Father’s direction when we receive with joy our solitude – saved or not! My “Solitary Man” moment was a turning point in my life, and without it, I wouldn’t be here. What began with a booming “NO” and solitude-by-default ended in the “YES” of fellowship with Jesus Christ. It’s a large life and a quirky world.
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV