More than one family member has called me restless. At first I called it a compliment. I equated restlessness with different.
“Don’t that make me special, Mom?” I asked her, when returning from college one weekend.
I embraced it and hung my hat on it, whenever something I heard didn’t sit well with me.
It slowly infected me like a cancer. I got to where everything turned my stomach. I didn’t like the restaurants friends chose. Instead of seeing my snobbishness, I would utter, “Can we go somewhere else?”
They, God bless them, humored me. It could take a while to find the right place. Movies on TV. I kid you not. It could take hours to select a movie.
My wife was patient to the nth degree!
It was easier for me to distance myself from opportunities and areas of life. I didn’t want to help, instead, I clung to my desires and wants over others.
This went on full-throttle until I saw a Thomas Merton quote which contemplated this soul problem, saying:
But if you try to escape from this world merely by leaving the city and hiding yourself in solitude, you will only take the city with you into solitude; and yet you can be entirely out of the world while remaining in the midst of it, if you let God set you free from your own selfishness and if you live for love alone.
This was exactly what I was trying to do. And you know what? The escape was as lethal as cyanide to my spirit. I wasn’t seeing people as creations in Christ. I was trying to avoid the world and its inhabitants. And it was driving me away from the very opportunity God was putting in front of me!
God was saying solitude with Him was important but so was living a life of accountability and transparency on earth. He is the only way to be set free from selfishness as I know it.
What A.W. Tozer said to be “a life away from the Presence, wrenched loose from that ‘blissful center’ which is our right and proper dwelling place, our first estate which we kept not (in Eden), the loss of which is the cause of our unceasing restlessness.
There’s that word again. I wrote Aha! out in the margin of Tozer’s book. For some reason, I not only ran into solitude to escape people but met the unrest it brought. Putting it too simply, solitude and peace are gifts from God alone.
Brian L. Tucker