By Jessica Marter
Time spent alone can be hard… Believe me, I know.
Not too long ago, I returned from spring break to find the world shutting down. My university closed, travel was banned, and the Coronavirus was all anyone talked about. I didn’t want to risk bringing any sickness home to my family, so I went into quarantine by myself.
In the beginning, some time alone didn’t sound all that bad. But after two days solo, I discovered the hermit life was not for me.
Sometimes I think time can feel different depending on what you do with it. And one thing I noticed as the minutes turned into hours and hours into days, was that time by myself didn’t seem as valuable as time spent with other people. It was almost as if not being with other people made everything I did just a little less important. I admit that I spent too much time on social media and that it was hard seeing people spending time with their family and friends while I sat alone. My days felt like they blurred together and were quickly forgotten. That’s when anxiety started to take over and no matter what I did, I always felt like I was wasting my time.
Maybe you can relate. We all have to spend some time alone in our lives. Today everyone is affected in some way by this quarantine, but all of humanity has shared in a different type of time alone: singleness.
While time as a single person might be shorter for some than others, it’s something we all experience. And sometimes being single is a lot like being in quarantine.
When you find yourself in a time of singleness it can be hard to see any value in it. It’s almost as if not being with someone makes everything you do just a little less important. It’s especially hard when everyone else around you seem to be in a relationship. Let’s face it, being single can really feel like a waste of time.
When I felt that way in quarantine, I realized I was in fact wasting my time.
But I didn’t have to.
I had been so focused on what I was doing with my time that I was missing out on what God was doing in his time. All I wanted was to be with someone and all the while God was inviting me to be with him. When I finally listened and leaned into his invitation, my anxiety faded away.
That’s when I understood that time alone with God is never wasted.
In my solitude and fear, God was inviting me to draw closer to him and unite my lonely heart to his.
I know I wasn’t created for quarantine; I was created for communion with God. But maybe sometimes I need a time of quarantine to help me remember that.
Saint Catherine of Siena once put it, “To the servant of God, every place is the right place and every time is the right time.” Even a period of singleness can be the right time. Maybe this is the point in your life where God is calling you to draw closer to his heart, to lean on his invitation and trust his plan for your life.
It really comes down to this, when we find ourselves alone, we can choose fear or we can choose trust.
Fear brings anxiety. It tells us that our time alone is not valuable or important and it constantly compares and convinces us that we’re missing out. But most of all, fear tells us we are wasting time.
Trust, on the other hand, brings peace. When we trust God, he tells us that time is a gift and every moment is valuable and important. Trust leaves no room for comparison and when you trust, there’s no such thing as wasted time.
Don’t get me wrong, trust is hard, especially when the future is uncertain.
When I was quarantined, I had no idea how long I was going to be there. Eventually, after a month I was able to go home, but at the time I didn’t know if I’d be there a week or a year.
Being single often feels the same way. You can’t ever really know how long you’ll be single. There’s a lot of security that comes with being in a relationship and not having that leaves the future insecure. Not knowing the future can lead to the fear of being alone forever or even dying alone. But that’s an opportunity to draw close and trust God even more. If we trust in God’s plan for us, even dying alone is bearable, because we know death is not the end.
We were not created to be single, we were created to be saints. But I think sometimes we need a time of singleness to help us realize that.
Time alone is hard, we all know that. Sometimes we don’t have a choice about what time we are in. But whether we find ourselves in a time of quarantine or singleness, it’s the right time, and we have a choice about how we spend it.
This time we’ve been given is a gift, let’s not waste it.