life and faith

Why silence instead of noise can speak volumes

Silence is anathema to many. Living in a continual buzz of noise and wall of sound have become the norm. Though they can hardly hear themselves speak. Many people cannot read or study without at least some music on to accompany it.

Having continual beeping technological machinery around us has become so commonplace it barely registers. We can almost fear silence. It feels alien. Uncomfortable. Weird. I used to feel that way. Any distraction was welcome.

Anything to drown out the thoughts in my head that reminded me of a past I longed to escape from. Keeping busy, busy, busy was life to me. Attention to spiritual things was perfunctory at best.

God lived in a box marked ‘Sundays only’ and my bible sat gathering dust like the mould in my mind. My inner life remained dry, empty and sterile but the outer one was as full as I could make it…at least on the surface.

All was brought to an abrupt halt when I succumbed to M.E and life as I knew it came crashing down. Now there was time and quiet space to focus on what really mattered – knowing God intimately and addressing the painful issues from my past – and nothing else to hide in.

These days, I crave quiet (and dark) as welcome companions to ease stimulation on an overloaded, weary brain and nervous system. Because it can only tolerate a fraction of what is perceived to be “normal” noise and interaction.

silence - lack of noise - trees - quiet - Great Ditchingham

Though we all need space just to be rather than to do so that we can rest fully in mind, body and spirit. Sometimes we just have to deliberately switch off the external noise for our sanity’s sake. You may ask: What happens when we do? Doesn’t the silence itself drive you mad?

Actually, because of the general hub-bub of life going on around us, silence is far from free of sounds. Our own hamster wheel of thoughts also tends to keep whirring round regardless.

Choosing to focus on hearing from God in the silence is rather like seeking the right radio wave frequency to listen to the station of our choice instead of the ones we don’t want to hear. And in exploring silence, what speak loud and clear is how we come face to face with ourselves and all that we are. Which is quite an uncomfortable feeling.

Silence is the discipline that helps us go beyond the entertainment quality of our lives” ~ Henri Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup?

Without words, the noise of entertainment or other distractions, there is nothing to hide behind. And we are left alone with our true selves: our raw, wounded, vulnerable humanity.

Although that feels scary, we can still breathe easy, and feel safe. Because we rest secure in the fact that God knows us inside out and loves us just the same. He longs for us to reach out to Him.

We cannot linger in the light of God’s presence and come away unchanged, whether we perceive it or not. He may or may not speak to us but we are altered, nevertheless.

As we spend time with God, His words and thoughts seep in, refresh, cleanse, wash over our mind. They bring the peace and strength we need to be helped, healed and made whole.

Even our creativity is enhanced by silence or quiet, meditative spells.

Idea are allowed space to surface and spill into the conscious mind once we relax enough to let them flow freely.

And God has so much He desires us to hear if only we allow Him space to speak to us, and listen for His still, small voice

Silence (or simply being quiet for a spell) is as much for our sake as God’s.

It enables us to more easily tap into who we are and what makes us tick. We create a clearing for deeper questioning, thinking and dreaming.

We start becoming more fully human and fully alive as we begin to notice both our interior and exterior world and hold them in equal measure without one drowning out the other.

I have to confess that I have found it hard to balance all the various elements in my life and successfully carve out a sacred space in a busier environment since returning from my retreat. Sinking back into routine is all too easy.

Reassuringly, God waits to meet with us in the mess and mayhem of our normal existence, right where we are in muddle and busyness, noise and distractions. He knows our schedules, the ways in which we feel stretched and harassed and how hard it can be to snatch quiet moments in the day, and He longs for us to surrender it all to Him.

As we practice His presence, in tiny moments or longer, it signals our awareness of His provision and our need of Him. The benefits far outweigh any potential disadvantages. May I encourage you to have a go? It could become a new habit. You, too, may find that you begin to crave peaceful times alone with God and that silence does, in fact, speak volumes.

Here are a few books that I’ve found helpful. You may like to try them too. They’re all available from Amazon. Just click on the links to find out more.

Over to you:

Have you ever deliberately pulled back from your usual activities and sought quiet/silence?
How did it impact your life and walk with God? Or maybe you are considering doing so. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you.

12 Comments

  1. Mary Harwell Sayler 16th July 2013
    • Joy Lenton 17th July 2013
  2. fjlloyd 16th July 2013
    • Joy Lenton 17th July 2013
  3. Mia De Vries 17th July 2013
    • Joy Lenton 17th July 2013
  4. Karin Deaver 17th July 2013
    • Joy Lenton 17th July 2013
  5. Ruth Povey 18th July 2013
    • Joy Lenton 18th July 2013
  6. hotchpotching 19th July 2013
    • Joy Lenton 19th July 2013
  7. Pingback: Mind the gap - Words of Joy 9th July 2015

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