A friend told me how his sister talks a lot. She thinks people will judge her if there is a lull in the conversation. I don’t remember if he was serious, or joking, but the truth is that silence makes most of us feel uncomfortable.
Why do we constantly search for a shiny object to distract us? We can’t live without checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or other social media apps.
If we’re driving, we have to have some kind of noise coming out of our radio, iPod, or CD player (Does anyone even have a CD player in their car anymore?) Even while studying, we can’t stand the silence around us, so we stream music or shows to our iPad or laptops.
Do you want to make a group of people, especially in church, feel uncomfortable? All you need to do is say, "Let us be silent for a few moments.” And then watch them become restless and preoccupied with only one thought: "When will this be over?"
Do you know why?
The easy answer is silence often creates hostility, resentment, or feelings of loneliness. We experience boredom or anxiety stemming from having nothing to do.
To some silence is the absence of culture, which means every worldly distraction stops. It is a place without iPhones, iPads, laptops, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc.
If this is so, then the deeper answer is silence forces us to face our mortality, weaknesses, and defects.
Please understand that by silence I don’t mean the absence of words. There are many introverts who are happy to take part in a gathering without having to say a word.
What I mean by silence is stopping the thoughts in our heads. Our chattering minds are our biggest noisemakers. Our greatest struggles take place there.
For example, I don’t know about you, but in my own life, I often fall into an old trap. Before I am aware of it, I find myself wondering why someone hurt me, rejected me, or didn’t pay attention to me. Or I find myself moping over someone else's success or my loneliness. Or I often catch myself daydreaming about becoming rich, powerful, and famous. And all this takes place without me saying a word.
Thousands of years ago, God told his people to, “Be still and know that I am God!” What he was saying was something like “Hey guys, while leaving matters to me, I want you to be silent and wait for me.” To me, that silence also applies to the anxious chatter in our minds.
About 2000 years ago, a group of men and women moved to the desert to separate themselves from the world. Known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers they wanted to draw closer to God. They believed our chattering minds are the greatest barriers to becoming aware of God and being at peace.
These men and women came to realize that by silencing our thoughts they lose power over us. Over time we begin to find peace in freedom from our desires, restlessness, and anxiety.
It's through the discipline of silencing our thoughts that we can achieve peace. It’s through silence that we fit every loose thought, emotion, and impulse into a life shaped by Christ.
It’s by controlling our thoughts that we can then achieve what God expects of us. He wants us thinking about what is true, moral, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
But with all the noise and distractions around us, how’s silence achieved? Are you interested in learning how to reach that goal? Do you desire to quiet down your chattering mind, so you can hear the gentle voice the Creator?
Come join me for that journey.