My roommate in college had a hilarious dad. I had the pleasure of going on one of their summer family vacations after my freshmen year. In the airport my roommate’s dad made a comment to his wife of many years, “Dear, you have a weight problem”. Just as I wanted to punch him he responded, “you can’t wait 5 minutes!”
Solitude, waiting and silence…..why do we have a hard time with them? What feelings do these words stir up in you? A sense of peace and calm? Or did you feel a twinge of displeasure deep in your stomach at the very thought of quiet? Why are some of us so afraid of silence? Think about it. When you know down time is coming in your life or day do you embrace it? Or do you get out your pen, paper or laptop to jot down an exhaustive to do list, trying to fill every moment of anticipated space? Well, that is what I struggle with.
If some of us are so strongly propelled in the opposite direction of silence, like
opposing magnets, maybe there is great value in that which we are pulled from? Products of being too busy in my life were fatigue, sickness, irritability, anxiousness, fear, hard heartedness and basically missing the sweet pleasure of life’s simple things. When I first started staying home the words I heard were “in quietness and confidence are your strength. But you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15) Ugh, knife to my stomach!
Silence almost has a way of reducing us down to our core. Wringing out what really matters and is bothering us, you know? Maybe that is why we are tempted to run from it. Solitude is defined as the state of being alone, separated from other people, a quality of quiet remoteness or seclusion in places from which human activity is generally absent. Maybe we’re afraid of being alone? Or what might come up if we’re not distracted.
“Small wonder people drink too much, eat too much, watch too much TV, basically check out. If they allow themselves to feel the depth of their actual longing for life and love and happiness. . . . it’s just too much to bear” (John Eldredge – Epic, p. 79-80)
If valuable things carry a heavy price then silence must bring treasure to our lives, right? Rest and silence do seem like expensive commodities these days. I’m fortunate that I was laid out due to illness, but is that what it takes for us to stop? I don’t know. Silence can be a door for peace and calm to enter our souls. I wanted to experience the fruit of those attributes in my life but didn’t want to do the “work” to harvest them. I’m not claiming to have all this mastered or understood, but there is something valuable and untapped in this whole idea.
“I have brought you to this place. Make the most of it. Drink in the silence. Seek solitude. Listen to the silence. It will teach you. It will build strength. Let others share it with you. It is priceless. It is little to be found elsewhere.” (Come Away Beloved, p. 205)
Now, I don’t want to neglect that everyone’s journey is different. We all go through different life phases and experiences so silence can take on varying forms. “He will be gracious if you ask for help” (Isaiah 30:19). I’m sure we all need help in this department. Even though we are human beings we don’t just naturally be, if you know what I mean. It doesn’t hurt to ask for help, but we must embrace the times of silence when they come or carve out the consistency in our schedule. Not that we become legalistic, it’s a process, but if it’s truly important to us we’ll do it. I’ve been asking myself and reminded of that sobering truth recently.
What are your thoughts on silence?