About nine months ago I felt like I needed to get some counseling. I can come through a very stressful period in my life and I wasn’t sleeping well. My anxiety levels were out of control as well and I was asking serious purpose of life kind of questions. It was both a mental and spiritual struggle. One of the things my counselor recommended was that I try to find time for silence. At first I thought it was impossible. I have three children ages two, five and eight. I have very little quiet in my life. Some days the sheer volume makes my teeth rattle.
She suggested I read the book Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence. I began slowly working my way through it. I was encouraged to take my time and not to rush through it as just another item on my to-do list. I’m still meandering through it and in that time I’ve learned a bit about what it means to pursue silence.
I may have very little actual auditory quiet in my house, but I can learn to have silence in my soul. The discipline of silence and solitude has been less about hearing God in the periods of silence and more about those times preparing me to hear him better through the noise and chaos. I remember the first few times I tried to sit quietly and just breath and listen. I was struck by how much noise there is, even in a quiet room I could hear the children playing on another floor of the house, the traffic going by outside, the neighbor’s lawn mower. I felt like I was being assaulted at every turn. My favorite time to find silence with God is in the shower. I don’t necessarily hear him speak to me but I try to quiet my mind and just rest for a few extra moments while I rinse the shampoo out of my hair.
If I waited until I could find large amounts of time to spend in silence, I’d never pursue the concept. But giving myself small increments, even if it’s just an extra minute sitting in the car before I pick my son up from therapy or embracing the quiet of the house at night if I wake up and can’t go back to sleep, I’m slowly building an ability to quiet myself from within. I know that eventually I’ll be able to experience God’s presence anywhere, silence without the quiet, and peace without stillness. This is something I’m still working on, but I feel the pull of it, the desire to find my center and permission to rest.