For years, I would never have even considered sitting alone in silence.
I saw no point to it. For an extrovert who measures her self-worth in doing rather than just being, sitting in silence seemed like a waste of precious resources. Nothing useful could be accomplished. There was no time for it.
I defined my days by how productive I was: what I got accomplished, what I crossed off my to-do list. If I could multi-task- call a friend while checking my email and paying bills- all the better.
Sometimes unexplained feelings would appear, tears would well up uncontrollably, anger would boil into rage within seconds. I didn’t know where these emotions came from and I was too busy to figure it out. Too busy or too afraid.
I didn’t want to know what was going on inside of me. It was easier to live on the surface. And less painful.
But at a friend’s urging, I went away on a silent retreat, mostly to get away from the stress of everyday life. I wasn’t sure what I would do or discover, but I knew too much of my life was unexamined. Too many emotions pushed down. Too many events unprocessed.
Though extraordinarily painful, those few days changed me. I rediscovered myself. And God.
Since then I have actively sought silence as passionately as I used to seek busyness.
In the silence, I encounter the living God. In the silence, I am free to face the ugliness of my soul and the beauty of God’s work in me. The “me” that I have been ignoring in my desire to get more accomplished.
There are no externals to distract me and I bring nothing of my own to God. Nothing but the insecure, sinful, broken me.
In the silence, I am not producing, performing or achieving. This is challenging since “doing” has always been my preferred mode of operation. It’s easier to do things for God. They are measurable and predictable. Volunteer to serve. Do my Bible study. Listen to a troubled friend.
While these are important, God wants so much more than my “doing.” He wants me to know Him, the infinite, unpredictable, and dangerous God, who asks more from me than I want to give. He wants everything. All of me. Not just my Bible study time in the morning and my prayers at night and my doing the right thing during the day. In the silence, everything is laid bare. I can’t hide behind my doing; I must wrestle with who I am and what is really inside of me.
In silence I can hear what’s stirring inside me. The emotions I push aside because they make me cringe as they flash through my mind. The fears that I suppress because I’d rather not face them. The sins that I don’t want to admit to anyone, including myself. The longings that I can’t verbalize and dismiss instead as crazy dreams.
Everything that’s buried deep inside of me comes out in silence.Continue Reading