Silence has been practiced by Christians for millennia, and even today there are monasteries around the world full of monks that HIGHLY prioritize the discipline. Yet, in our day and time, with smartphones, youtube, and music streaming at our fingertips it can feel out of reach.
Here’s the deal with silence. Sometimes we just need a minute of it. Have you ever told your kids you need them to be quiet? Then, after a minute of whispering you realize what you really need is for them to be silent? As in zero. noise.
I’ve actually started using the phrase, “It’s silent time.”
I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation for it, but all I know is this. Sometimes I feel tightness in my chest, and noise (of any kind) intensifies it. But when I’m fortunate enough to get some time away from the noise I feel more at peace.
Now, silence is something I crave, but there’s a deeper level to it.
If you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, sad, frustrated, or any other number of negative emotions I want to challenge you to set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and get rid of the noise. Turn off the music. Turn off the TV. Tell the kids to go to their rooms, or just put yourself in another room and let them know you need it quiet.
Sit there for a minute and see how much better you feel. Then, pray.
I often struggle to hear God’s voice, but in moments where I’m overwhelmed, when I get away in the quiet and focus my attention on the Lord, I feel his peace. If you don’t see the value in silence, or if it feels too hard to find, I just want to encourage you to just make it a priority. I promise you won’t regret it.
You probably think I should have led with solitude, since we typically only find silence when we’re alone, but here’s the deal. We can find silence without solitude, and we can find solitude without silence.
Last fall, we were on a month-long trip with our family of four in a 19-foot travel trailer. About two weeks in, I realized I needed a minute, so I announced to my family that I would be entering my son’s bunk, closing the curtain, and needed to be left alone.
Silence was not an option in that moment. Family of four. 19-foot travel trailer. But I could get some time alone. I grabbed my phone, put in my earbuds, and for 15 minutes listened to my favorite worship songs.
I felt so rejuvenated after that time that I made sure, for the remainder of the trip, I would always have my earbuds with me. Whenever I needed some “alone time,” I’d just put some music on and boom. The Lord and I would hang.
There have always been, and always will be, a plethora of things that vie for our attention. Silence and solitude are two ways we can battle back. They’re both counter cultural. Spiritual disciplines often are, so don’t assume they’ll come easy. You just have to make them happen.
And don’t think you have to set aside hours in order to find them. 10 minutes here. 5 minutes there. That’s all you need to get started. And remember, we don’t prioritize silence and solitude for the sake of silence and solitude. We prioritize them to find Jesus.
Because there’s a better way,