The Beauty of Silence

I used to be very talkative, the first characteristic I would state in any “about me” box. My dad described me as being the “mouth of the south,” meaning that I was the most talkative member of the family.

That is until the day I wasn’t.

This was when God introduced me to a friend whose quiet nature indirectly showed me that there is a certain beauty to silence, to listening, to observing the world around rather than running over it with what I could say. I picked up on this notion rather quickly, but it took a little longer to work out the reasoning behind it.

The world around us is full of noises—background music, passing cars, the activity of people nearby, the hum of an air conditioner—yet moments when we can discern these qualities of our life are often quickly altered. We call a friend, we turn on the TV, we put in earbuds.

We are constantly filling our ears with activity.

Then there is the silent but racing soundtrack forever playing in our minds when we have a full schedule. In the morning we hit the ground running, spend our day jumping from one activity to the next, only to fall dead on our feet when it’s finally time to turn in.

Within 24 hours like those, hardly a moment is spared (if ever) to step back from the activity at hand and take in the bigger picture, and we like it that way.

“We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We want to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.”

Peter Kreeft

When it comes down to it, we don’t want to hear ourselves. We don’t want to be caught in a moment of silence when our inner voice could pipe up. It is so much easier and far more entertaining to ride the roller coaster of life than to spend days blanking at puzzles formed by the complexity of heart issues. My youth pastor likes to say, “If Satan can’t make you evil, he’ll make you busy.”

“Travel sports on weekends that rob us of local and religious connection, season three of ______ on Netflix that takes time away from listening to our neighbors, relentlessly checking social media, which cultivates envy and erodes compassion. These things subtly seduce us and distort our vision of life. They take up the space required for the gospel to thrive.”

Jon Tyson

“I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room,” 17th-century Christian mathematician Blaise Pascal said. You need to quiet your mind in order to hear the Holy Spirit, my dad says. My pastor once said that silence cuts off the noise of your experience and mind and allows you to see God for who He is.

The quiet moments you come across in your day—arriving early, staying late, being left alone—are the rare moments when you can simply sit in silence and think because it is then that you gain true self-awareness. It is then that you can hear your conscious. It is then that you can clearly discern God’s voice.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Psalms 46:10

“I really struggle to be still and hear God’s voice in a world (and a mind) that speaks so loudly/constantly,” Celine Mutzke once shared on her Instagram account. “This really comes from a deeper urge to feel the need for control. When we try to take control, we can quickly throw stillness and peace out the window and say hello to anxiousness, discontentment and the loud hum of the world’s constant and overwhelming noise. What does it look like for us to truly ‘be still’ and focus on the only direction given in this verse: know that He is God. What a comfort it is to understand that I don’t have to control the noise of the world!”

So, when the everyday hustle, bustle, and buzz of life becomes apparent to you, take a moment to breathe. Just breathe. Go for a stroll through the woods or watch the ants scurry along in their microscopic world. Talk to God. Spend time in your Bible. Listen and read the work of others as they unpack God’s Word. Seize a moment to dial in and completely focus on the glory of your Creator. As Robert Tew once said, “sometimes you gotta take a break from all the noise to appreciate the beauty of silence.”

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