Sometimes when I substitute teach, my job assignment stretches beyond the classroom.
Recently I ended up in the school’s lunchroom to supervise bubbly elementary students. An extended squirming hand raised high let’s the adults know when attention is needed—usually indicating milk cartons are being stubborn and extra help is needed in opening them, maybe a kiddo wants permission to pass on their veggies, or he or she is ready to dump their tray once they’ve finished eating.
While I helped a few weeks ago, a hand went up and I walked over.
A little girl, probably second grade, looked up at me with sad eyes and I knew we weren’t dealing with regular lunch issues. I knelt down beside her and asked what was wrong. With tears welled in the corners of her eyes she spoke through pouty lips, “I want to sit alone right now.”
“Well why? What’s going on?” I asked with concern.
The tiny voice responded, “I’m just sad, it’s too loud in here, and I want to be alone.”
“If you sit alone though, then you’ll be lonely.” I stated with matter of fact reasoning.
“But that’s what I want! I want to be lonely,” she persistently replied.
In my unprofessional opinion I’m not sure anyone chooses to want to be ‘lonely’…Determined to get down to the core problem I asked the light-pink shirted cutie if there was something causing her sadness and she revealed that her great grandpa had passed away and she was missing him. Together we decided she could stay seated where she was and didn’t need to visit with anyone around her, she could just sit quietly—reflecting on the good-time memories she had with him.
Seeing someone hurt is hard. I want to be able to fix the worry, the trouble, the pain—and bring it all to an end. But at times, a little alone time is honestly the best option. It’s there that we can take a deep breath, quietly sort thoughts, and recollect a positive mindset.
As a Christian I thoroughly look forward to my own “quiet time”. I’m addicted to it in a healthy sense and when I don’t get it I’m kind of a mess. Having quiet time (or me time) means I can spend time, not technically alone, but with Jesus—studying His word and embracing scripture that deals with my matters. It’s then that I find soul-quenching refreshment and the most beautiful thing about it is…I’m left satisfied. Every. Single. Time.
Jesus set the perfect example for us as He purposefully spent quiet time with the Lord in prayer and then reconnected with his followers shortly after, surely feeling a deep sense of fulfillment after doing so.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” -Matthew 26:36
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. -Luke 5:16
When we follow Jesus’ footsteps and mimic his character (spending time before the Lord) we too can find ourselves feeling refreshed—replacing disappointment with contentment, and sorrow with gladness.
…Later that afternoon when I ended up back in the classroom, I heard some giggling coming from the hallway. Turning my attention toward the laughter I saw a once teary-eyed girl from the lunchroom now walking beside a friend…with a large grin spread across her sweet face.
This time when her hand went up she gave an excited, big wave and quickly I returned one—thankful to see her in such a delighted, cheerful spirit.
Sometimes just a bit of quiet time followed with a mixture of friendship and laughter can make all the difference in creating a positive outcome…but the best kind of “alone time” is no doubt when we invite God to be a part of it.