by Rob Tims
The pearl-white minivan pulled away in the Saturday summer sun, and I was suddenly struck with an intoxicating mix of emotions. Sad. Relieved. Shame for feeling relieved.
For the next 6 days, I would be alone. My wife and 4 kids were off to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and I was home to work, serve our AirBnB guests, and complete an aggressive “honey-do” list.
I would see my way thru that emotional fog, but I was not prepared for what it was like to be alone, and for the lessons God would teach me through that loneliness.
Here are 3 quick things I learned on my own for 6 days.
- Even the strongest introverts are made for relationships. I’m a collaborative, relational guy, but I get my energy by being alone. To have some time alone at work (which is almost always the case) suits me well because I can come home energized for my family. But to end work and return to an empty home? Wow … that was tough, highlighting just how much even the strongest introverts are made for relationships.
- I’m a worse sinner than I know. Without the accountability of my family, I became much more aware of many besetting sins in my life. I was the only one to blame for the mess in any room in the house. Ironically, laziness creeps up on you fast. I’ve neglected a lot of friendships. These are but a few of things being alone for a week showed me about my sin.
- God is more gracious to me each and every day. Because I became more and more aware of besetting sin, I was led to celebrate God’s great grace. Jesus died for a lazy, dirty, selfish Rob. Clearly an undeserved act of love. God is so good.
All of that to say that God taught me the gospel in my loneliness. He taught me that I need Him and others to push me toward Him. He showed me my sin and His grace in Christ.
Six days after the van drove away, I boarded a one-way flight for Charlotte where my family picked me up for a week of vacation in the mountains of North Carolina. My phone barely worked, and the internet was spotty at best. The weather was perfect, and the mountain trails beckoned.
I was lonely no more, but better off for having been such.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.