“In solitude, at last we’re able to let the Lord define us the way we are always supposed to be defined: by relationship, the I-thou relationship, in relation to a Presence that demands nothing of us but presence. If we’ve never lived in the realm of pure presence without our world of achieving, we don’t know how to breathe there at first. And that’s precisely why the Lord has to breathe through us. The Lord has to be our life; the Lord has to be our identity. At last, we allow ourselves to be defined by relationship instead of by the good—even the holy—things we’ve done.”
From Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 119, d. 128 (Source: Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction)
It is in the place of solitude we are reminded the spiritual life is not achieved by trying harder. It’s one of the few places we leave striving behind and are permitted, even encouraged, to enter as we are. There is no need for pretending we are someone we are not or feeling something we don’t feel.
We do not “achieve” anything through solitude as if we could transform ourselves. The abundant life Jesus promised is a derived life. “I have come…that you might…” (John 10:10). “The Spirit gives life…” (John 6:63). What it does do is allows us to be with the One who calls us the Beloved and find just being there is enough.
I love how Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child describes it: “Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence. It is not merely a lofty thought, an inspiring idea, or a name among many names. It is the name by which God knows us and the way He relates to us.”
It is the name by which God relates to you. How does that make you feel? How does that change everything?