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Why Alone Time is Important

Girl on a bench

Years ago, in Sunday school class we watched a video by Bill Hybels, The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond. It was about making time to be still, be quiet, and listen to God and respond.

In the video, others who had learned to be still and listen shared their experiences. One man felt led to donate a kidney and a woman gained strength during a difficult time by spending time listening to God.

In the lesson, Mr. Hybels mentioned that he often drove his car without any music on so he could pray and listen to God. At the time I always drove while listening to music or a podcast. I couldn’t fathom driving in silence. But his message stayed with me, and I tried it. At first, it was uncomfortable and after a few minutes, I turned back on the radio. But as I kept trying it, I found not only could I go longer without the noise I was used to, but I also came to appreciate the quiet time. It gave me time to think about the day, and what needed to be done. I was able to reflect on things with my kids and think about conversations or planning we needed to do and when to do them. It gave me time to pray, and not hurriedly, but time to pray and listen to God.

I found such value in this time I started incorporating it into other areas of my life. I like to run and for decades had done so with an earpiece connected to music. But it often diverted my thoughts to a memory or other thoughts from the song that was playing. I started leaving the music at home and gained a new appreciation for the outdoors. My running time became my God talk and listen time.

Most nights, before I get ready for bed, I stretch for 30-60 minutes. I used to stretch while watching a TV show but switched to doing so in silence. I relaxed and wound down from the day so much better and found more God talk and listen time. Often a thought about the next day would come to mind and I’d jot down a note.

As much as I’ve come to value this time, there are times I still have to work at it. Sometimes at the end of the day, I use the TV for noise and a laugh instead of stretching in quiet. If I overdo it on TV I don’t sleep as well, so I work to find balance.

Several years after I developed these habits, I started dating. At first, it was great. After our first date, Russ didn’t wait days to call and ask me out again. And he broke “protocol” and texted me during that first week leading up to our second date. I appreciated that Russ was open with his interest in me and wasn’t playing games. Within a few weeks, we were in a dating relationship – seeing each other on Friday, going to church together on Saturday evening, and talking or spending time together during the week. I enjoyed his company, and it was nice to be in a relationship again.

If we weren’t together, Russ liked to text, talk on the phone, or Facetime. It was flattering but took up a lot of time. As time went on, parts of the relationship became uncomfortable. I couldn’t always put my finger on why something bothered me. I eventually broke up with him, and after the relationship was over, I realized while we were dating my schedule was always occupied by work or Russ. I was so busy I didn’t have time to think things through well. I realized if I’d had some time to myself, I would have been able to pay more attention to the pieces that bothered me and been able to discern why much earlier in our relationship. 

Much like jealousy can be misunderstood as a sign someone likes you, so can overcommunicating. The attention can be seen as flattering or a compliment. We may think it’s a sign of how much they like us or where the relationship is headed. But it’s healthy to have time apart and to ourselves.

For teens, who are accustomed to texting and Snapchatting with friends as well as watching TikTok or scrolling other social media throughout the day, finding balance and not overcommunicating may be even harder.

At the beginning of a new dating relationship, it’s especially important to maintain your own interests and time to yourself to reflect and discern how you feel in the relationship. As the relationship continues, you’ll naturally begin to spend more time together and it’s important to find the balance that works well in your relationship.

Time apart can be doing something you enjoy, such as:

  • Reading a book,

  • Spending time with friends,

  • Doing an activity you enjoy,

  • Exercising, etc.

Time to yourself is when you have time to reflect, relax, and decompress. It can be something like

  • a relaxing walk,

  • meditating,

  • journaling,

  • sitting in a park or by a river.

If you, or someone you know, feels uncomfortable in a relationship, see our post on Listening to Your Gut.


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