We are inundated with words. They are on billboards, over loudspeakers and on car bumpers. Words fill our homes via radios, televisions and books. We listen to podcasts and sermons, we ask for people’s advice and search blogs and articles to answer any question. We even fill the void of silence with our own words as we contemplate life, whisper prayers and speak our minds.
Those who have the words are respected, either because of their eloquence or their abundance. Our leaders are the ones who speak, who voice the ideas and make themselves heard above the noise, whether with new ideas or traditional beliefs their words flow, raining down on our ears.
Words can be beautiful. They can breathe life, offer comfort and inform, but they can also numb and confuse. Personally, I can think and I can write, listen and watch but when I sit in silence an anxious energy wells up from my gut and moves to my chest. My body does not like stillness and my mind does not like silence. My hands can begin to shake and my face feels hot and my legs bounce and my mind will wander back to words.
Silence is golden. It is golden and valuable because as words overwhelm our worlds, the words themselves lose their meaning and they lose their power. I suppose it’s a simple form of economics where the excess of any product will lose its worth and impact to move us.
In any case, we can tell when words are spoken without substance; while they are the right words, they are empty. We walk away from conversations, team meetings, lectures or sermons where we had hoped to find solace and encouragement but instead we feel defeated, empty or confused. We can also speak words without substance ourselves. Words we have been taught to say, words we think we ought to say, or simply words to fill uncomfortable silence.
In this world of words we have lost the art of discernment, the art of knowing our own mind, heart and soul as we rely on words spoken by others. We construct our views of reality based on these words and are no longer in tune with our own emotions, stories and experiences.
From my evangelical world view, I have been taught not to trust myself, that my heart is deceitful, and I can’t know what is right and good. I must trust the words but not my own experiences in the world. It has been a danger in my life, as this mindset led me to places where abuse and neglect could flourish, because while the words seemed right, they left me isolated and dejected.
Silence is holy, just as our souls, bodies and minds are. We are created so intricately and intimately. We are loved of God well before any other person could love us or break us. It is in silence that we meet ourselves and in so doing we have an opportunity to meet God as well.
No perfect words spoken. No words spoken at all, simply silence, as we feel the chest move up and down with our breath, the hands at the side or clutched at the heart. What do we feel? Sorrow, joy, fear, confusion, excitement? Can we see God? Is he there with us? No words, just awareness.
Be still and know that He is God. He will fight for you and all you have to do is be silent.
When I close my eyes and enjoy the quiet, my God is always there. It’s funny, even when I’m angry at him or when he is procrastinating too much for me, I conjure him up in my mind the same way. He sits near me cross-legged or with his legs stretched out and he is always silent, a look of peace on his face, as though he finds my presence satisfying.
For, even though he has the words he sits in silence, because the presence of each other is enough.
Instead of reading more of my words, I hope you take an opportunity to find silence, even for a moment. Can you connect to yourself? How does God meet you there?
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