Debbie Salter Goodwin
A Time to be Silent
Sometimes I think all I need are words; but what I need first is silence.
When I was a young mom, I dreaded the morning rush to get everyone where they needed to be with everything that had to have. I learned quickly that if I didn’t get up before everyone else to spend some sanity-saving time in silence, to order my soul, to hear from my Creator; I ran the risk of spending the rest of the day hearing only my best thoughts, my worst fears, trying too hard, meeting the wrong needs, and ending the day feeling spent and unproductive.
We have trouble understanding this time to be silent. Silence makes us uncomfortable. Somebody say something, we think. And if no one will, we are happy to fill the silence with our words.
A time to be silent is a time to listen. Just listen. Listen without trying to compose your next thought. Listen without wondering what someone else thinks of you. Listen without allowing negative self-talk to invade the silence. It isn’t easy. It takes practice and focus, more than you think.
One of two things can happen to destroy our attempt to be silent. Either we fall asleep or we feel bombarded by all the must-do’s and don’t forgets that tumble into a space we cleared for listening. I have learned not to treat either as saboteurs to my time for silence. If I fall asleep it is because I need it and whatever I need to listen for, I can’t hear properly until I’m rested. And if I feel ambushed by renegade thoughts and to-do’s, I take a piece of paper and write them down. Once written, they no longer knock down the door of my concentration. I can put them aside knowing I will not forget them.
Sometimes I think people are afraid of what God might say to them in such vulnerable silence. They are so used to the negative voices in their heads telling them to try harder, do more, be better; they think God has the same voice. Look at scripture. Where does He taunt? Where does He put down? Never.
Ezekiel found a quiet place by the Kebar River and God opened the heavens and gave him a movie trailer no one else had seen. Jesus would find a mountain retreat away from his disciples and the crowds where God, His Father, filled Him with His words, His ways, and His will so powerfully that He would never turn away from the counsel found in those times. We know that David composed verse and song about the greatness of God and his creation while watching sheep. Those words empowered him in days when it felt like everyone else turned against him.
Come. Rest. Be healed. Be whole. Be free. Be mine. Be loved. These are the words our Father would whisper to our hungry hearts. He will not shout them above the din in our lives. He whispers. Because He knows that if we can hear His whisper, we are ready to hear what we need to hear to continue our journey, to be encouraged, to stop self-doubt, to be ready.
We do not need more noise in our lives. We need more silence. Turn off the noisemakers in your world. Yes, even the music. Just for a little while. Hear silence. Draw your quiet circle. Practice what it takes to put away any inside voice that disturbs your peace. And listen. Listen deep. Listen until you know the unfailing love of your Creator for you. Listen until you know God understands that hurt and where it came from, that insecurity and how to put it in its place, that fear and what to do with it. Listen until you know how to hear that voice in the middle of the myriad of voices you will hear throughout your day. Like the voice of your child you can identify no matter how many voices there are, listen until you know God’s voice that well.
Then, silence is not empty. It is filled with all the hope and healing you need for