Making a Case for Silence
Rebecca writes on the struggle we face living in a noisy, loud world while desperately needing times of silence and solitude with God. She also points out that there is a need to discern which influences we are paying attention to.
Music to my ears
Have you ever studied or worked with music playing in your ears? You know you’re just trying to get in the zone and concentrate on something important by blocking out the background noise. You think that listening to music will help. You see people in the office, in a cafe or around university with headphones on, working. It’s funny, though, that often we don’t think silence is what we need to concentrate. We think we need one type of noise to block out everything else.
Sometimes if I need to do readings for university, I will sit in a cafe, thinking it will help me concentrate. Yes, having a coffee while reading is pretty enjoyable but this situation doesn’t work for everything. I’ve tried listening to music myself and what works depends on the type of work I need to do. Often I need music that just instrumental or is unfamiliar to me. When I am writing, like right now on the bus, I need music to block out other people’s voices. However, when I am in the deep thick of study for my exams I have to be by myself in the library, mostly in silence.
I recently completed a short-term study about spiritual practices, or as the study called them ‘sacred rhythms’. These practices and rhythms are important as they can help us connect with God. By doing these practices regularly, whether that is every day or weekly, they help us to see where God is present and encourage consistent reliance on God to get us through our daily needs. Often these practices can be unique to us, and what works for you might not work for another.
One of the practices that we looked at was solitude and silence. Being quiet, alone and making space to hear what God might be saying to you and to find rest for yourself. These are things that we all deeply need in this very busy world. A key woman in my life relishes silence and solitude and loves to have quiet time with God. She shared with us how important this is, encouraging us to see how our relationships with God will grow and our souls will receive that deep rest we all need.
The challenges of silence and solitude
However, I am a bit of an extrovert. I love having coffee with my friends, I love talking about things I’m passionate about and I like to verbally process my thoughts and feelings. I love being in the company of people or if I’m alone, I still love busying myself with writing and to be honest I struggle with silence and solitude because of this.
Furthermore, we live in a very loud world. We are constantly stimulated by our phones and have constant, instant access to other people’s lives via social media. News from the other side of the world can reach our country in mere minutes.
As we learn to block out the noise, not with more noise but with silence, we can create space for God each day.
I wrote earlier this year about deleting the news apps from my phone and found that the constant notification of headlines wasn’t good for my mindset. Yes I could simply turn the notifications off but they were still taking up room on my phone and, therefore, my brain. By deleting them I was removing them from my consciousness.
But I’m still struggling with the many influences and perspectives that we are surrounded by in this world. I love using Instagram to see what people are up to and see the great content people produce. But I’ve been struggling with views shared by some influencers I follow. I find that they can excessively complain or promote a negative perspective on a matter. This in turn frustrates me and draws that negative attitude into my day.
I think my mission for 2019 will be to develop the practices of silence and solitude and learn to minimise the various influences, voices and stimulation in my life. From this, I can focus my energy into a healthy life featuring lots of rest which will lead to more productivity. I am learning to lessen the emotional effect of these influences so that I have the capacity to rest and be with God.
Do not worry
To reflect on this through scripture I love the passage Matthew that talks about how we do not need to worry, that God will provide our needs and that we cannot add a day to our life by worrying. (Matt 6:25-34). I think that is so relevant because we think that we need to do many things for ourselves in order to be successful in life. However, I think you’ll find that stress negatively impacts our lives, often reducing the success we can enjoy. We need to remember that God will provide for us, that God does not want us to stress and that he wants us to live life to the fullest (John 10:10).
As we learn to block out the noise, not with more noise but with silence, we can create space for God each day. We can receive rest and encouragement from God and we can minimise the many influences, stressors and stimulation in our lives.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at the University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Rebecca Hoverd.
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