This Singles’ Day, take some time to celebrate one of the key advantages of singlehood: solitude.
So, are you all ready for Singles’ Day? Items all in the cart and ready to click “pay”? That’s great!
But, have you considered actually celebrating Singles’ Day—without shopping?
Singles’ Day originated at Nanjing University back in the 1990s. There are two enduring theories of its origins:
- Four male students were playing mahjong on November 11, sharing their wishes for the future and bemoaning their singlehood. Coincidentally, the winning tiles for several rounds of that particular game were all ones. The students took it as a good omen about their singlehood, and that’s how the special day was launched.
- A man named Guang Gun fell in love with a young lady while at university. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cancer and eventually passed away. Upon her death, Guang Gun placed candles on the roof of his dormitory in her honor. Soon his friends joined in to pay their respects as well. This became an annual tradition that was celebrated by many on November 11.
Such meaningful backstories. So how did 11.11 become a celebration of consumerism instead? Any excuse for a sale, right?
ENJOYING THE SOLITUDE
Well, far be it from me barring you from stocking up on extra toilet paper, but I believe that Singles’ Day can be celebrated in a multitude of ways apart from shopping.
Officially, the Chinese government website states that 11.11 is a holiday that “allows single men and women to enjoy their youthfulness before they prepare for the future”. I think Singles’ Day can be used to appreciate the more meaningful aspects of being single.
In particular, the aspect of solitude.
By actively seeking solitude, you’re putting aside the distractions of the world and creating room for something deeper.
There are plenty of articles and reports gushing over the benefits of solitude: decompressing from the stress of the world, finding inspiration, building mental strength, having the time to chart out the course of your life and even allowing your mind to find answers to questions you’ve been mulling over.
Some describe the time as an opportunity to “find yourself”.
But as Christians, we believe that apart from these wonderful benefits, we have the privilege of stepping further and entering spiritual solitude.
Spiritual solitude is not separate from solitude, but instead, it is an extension of the benefits of tranquillity you gain from being alone. Not only are you seeking the peace of God, you’re allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you—whether He leads you to the respite you seek, or He provides that spark of creativity you need to jump-start a new project. Solitude can even be an opportunity to see how God has shaped or is shaping the path you are on.
This was well-practiced by the great men of faith in the Bible. In Exodus, Moses was constantly running off to seek God in a tent or up a mountain. Abraham, Jacob, Elijah and many others took time to seek God and found their minds renewed with revelation. Our best example, Jesus also often went to seek the Father and be alone in His presence.
We may not have the luxury of spending 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, but seeking solitude in this day and age is about setting aside time for solitude, time that you don’t spend worrying about your children, or the work that is piling up. This is time that is not just about reading and studying the Word of God; instead, it’s about allowing your spirit and soul to breathe and creating room for the Holy Spirit come and fill you again.
WHERE TO GAIN SOLITUDE?
At its core, solitude is a discipline. It is so far from our natural inclination that it takes time and practice to actually be silent and to free our minds from worries and concerns. Solitude is an act of consciousness; it requires you actively removing the things of the world and to fix your mind on God alone.
If you just sat in a room looking out to the window, or lay flat on your bed staring at your ceiling, you’ll most likely end up daydreaming or falling asleep.
So instead, start by anchoring yourself to God. Bring out your guitar and enter into worship, read the Bible and meditate on a verse until you find the focus is fully on God.
If you find that your hands have to be busy, pray in your mind as you doodle and let inspiration flow. Go for a run, bake or even water your plants as you keep your mind on the Lord! For some people, keeping your hands busy with mundane tasks so that your mind, now focused on a verse or a particular worship song, or even just the Lord’s Prayer, can be tethered to Him, is necessary.
Solitude doesn’t have to take days or weeks. You could start with just five minutes a day, and you may find this time of rest stretching into hours and who knows, maybe even a day. You will find that spiritual solitude becomes time of rest for yourself.
At the heart of it, the time you are taking to be alone with God will put your mind at ease and help you sift through the noise of the world to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying.
Ultimately, you don’t need Singles’ Day to practice solitude—you don’t even need to be single. But 11.11 is a great reminder to take time to be alone with God, and to take your mind off things of the world (such as that crazily discounted 55” TV). Solitude might lead to ideas you never dreamed of, or for some, it may be when you hear God’s voice for the first time.
“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation.” Psalm 62:1