Researchers and clinicians have shown that noise pollution not only drives hearing loss, tinnitus, and hypersensitivity to sound, but can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; sleep disturbances; stress; mental health and cognition problems, including memory impairment and attention deficits…

Harvard Medicine

SILENCE

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.

In a noise-polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think let alone try to be still and know God. Yet it seems essential for our spiritual life to seek some silence, no matter how busy we may be.

– Susan Muto

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.

Silence is a regenerative practice of attending and listening to God in quiet, without interruption and noise.

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, p. 107

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.

Silence is not to be shunned as empty space, but to be befriended as fertile ground for intimacy with God.

Susan Muto

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.

SOLITUDE

The practice of solitude involves scheduling enough uninterrupted time in a distraction-free environment that you experience isolation and are alone with God. Solitude is a “container discipline” for the practice of other spiritual disciplines.

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, p. 111

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.

In solitude the heart waits for God, and God alone. Here the soul opens wide to listen and receive.

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, p. 112

CONCLUSION

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,
Sarah

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