Written by Sherlyn Ang
We all need pauses in life.
I take my pauses in various ways, from one-hour hangouts at little cafes to short staycations in Singapore. I make it a point to have such pauses, such me-and-God times. To reflect, to rest, and to recharge.
This year, I decided to do something I’ve never done before—to travel to Sydney, alone. While this may not seem like a big deal to many who have travelled the world on their own, for me, it was like venturing into unchartered waters! My friends could not understand why I wanted to go on a solo trip, and were worried that I would be unsafe and lonely. While their concerns did factor in my consideration, I guess I really needed a break from work and the busy life, and to have some time by myself and with God.
Eight days later and having come back safe and sound from my maiden solo excursion, I am happy to share two of my key takeaways from my experience:
1. Traveling on my own allowed me to understand myself better.
When traveling with friends, I usually have to consider my friends’ preferences for food, lodging, budget, places to visit, etc. But traveling alone gave me the freedom to make decisions, purely on my own. I spent most of my time exploring new places and walking along the streets with no particular destination in mind. Even waking up was just a matter of what time my body clock told me to get up, I didn’t even have to set a morning alarm!
With people and time no longer a key consideration, I realized I could spend hours in a tiny shop selling artsy handmade merchandise but 15 minutes was all I took to finish my round in a huge art museum.
I also learnt that as humans, we are made to be relational creatures. There were occasions, such as one night when I was watching a brilliant fireworks display, I found myself thinking how nice it would have been to have someone to share this moment with. While I thoroughly enjoyed having time to myself, I also missed having someone to enjoy the experience together.
2. Traveling alone made me more aware of God’s presence.
With no other human beings to talk to, I tended to talk more to God. In situations which weren’t exactly the safest (such as walking back to the hostel alone at night along the quiet streets), I asked God to keep me safe. In moments where I experienced the beautiful sights of creation, I thanked God for His majesty.
I spent many moments with just a black pen, a journal, the Bible, a Christian book, and a cup of coffee in various cafes. Those were precious times of being still before God, to reflect on my life and to seek God’s direction for what’s next. It was just as God says to His people in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (ESV).
Pausing to reflect
Looking back on my maiden solo excursion, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to embark on it. But beyond the novelty and excitement of traveling on my own, it was at the end of the day, a good pause—to rest, reflect and recharge with my Creator. Would you take such pauses too?