Curled up on a worn corner of her couch, surrounded by the quiet only a lack of distraction can bring, Erika Alaman listens. She thinks. She reflects. She is still and silent and waiting. Years of this practice have taught her to be expectant. She waits upon the Lord, and He does not disappoint.
The younger daughter of a single dad, Erika had to grow up early. She says her young life was “lots of series of unfortunate events.” Because her parents divorced, and later her mother began to suffer from schizophrenia, Erika’s dad has done the hard work of single-parenting two girls since Erika was seven months old. Erika remembers giving back her allowance to help pay bills. She remembers moving in with her grandparents after her family’s house burned to the ground. She remembers moving in with her grandparents again while her father was in rehab for a drug addiction that he had been able to hide for years.
But Erika also remembers being immersed in church as part of her family’s culture from the beginning, She remembers answering an altar call at 8 years old. She remembers journaling in middle and high school, writing prayers both profound and ordinary to a God she knew was listening. And she remembers singing at a church conference the summer after her senior year of high school, feeling God’s presence pouring through her, and knowing she would never be the same again.
With so much life in her life, somehow Erika found a way to process the things that were happening around her. It began with the journaling as a young girl. She needed a place to put all of her thoughts, to get them out and leave them be. As she grew older, as the Lord took hold of her life, she realized that sometimes her hand couldn’t move as fast as her thoughts, and that in those times, it was better that she sit still and process through her thoughts and wait for the Lord to speak to her. This time became a sweet opportunity for her to see where God was in her day, little moments where He showed up, and in the pace of the day, she hadn’t realized it. In the quiet, she could hear Him better and see Him better.
Thus began a semi-regular practice that Erika and her husband Lo call Silence and Solitude. She explains, “It’s not only the hard things that need pondering. Sometimes it’s questions—things to wrestle with. Sometimes it’s celebratory, when I just need to remember all the good things that God has restored, healed, and blessed. The things that have brought me through.” In these moments, the scripture that she has hidden in her heart from a young age comes to bear. Or, the Holy Spirit prompts her to seek out where her thoughts and feelings line up with the Word.
“Life happens so fast. I’ve learned that I have to make time to be quiet, listen to God, and let Him show me things. And then I can leave it there. I don’t have to talk about it with others. It’s my sacred time.”