In the quiet and in the fray, say His Name…
It’s been one of those days—when the water goes out and the landlord above has been arguing loudly with his wife all day. Now, the baby just woke from a nap and I have an unexpected visitor who I politely insist stay for dinner. I text my husband a list and ask him to stop by the market on his way home while reminding him to pick our son up from nursery school. I nurse my baby and talk with my visitor in a language I’m still learning, when suddenly, the dumpling cart man outside my apartment building blares a techno-pop song from his radio, setting off every dog barking down the street. My baby startles and I try not to cry.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Oh Jesus, I need your strength.
I am hiking up a narrow footpath, weaving around terraced rice paddies with a troop of little girls trailing me from behind. Their giggles and whispers blend in with the sound of songbirds hidden in the forest. Bamboo leaves rustle in the breeze as I approach a spring at the edge of the hillside. The girls creep up next to me sheepishly. My mind fills with hundreds of words I’ve been learning, but they are all jumbled up because all I can think about is my friend who just died back home. I greet the little girls while wishing I was somewhere else.
Jesus. Jesus, help me. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
At the crowded bus station, horns blare and people jostle for the doors of the bus. I follow the sweaty crowd, grocery bags in hand, and let myself be carried to whatever seat I may find. Phones ring, the driver yells, chickens screech, babies cry, and I hear someone yell, “Look at the foreigner.” I can understand you, I reply in a semi-annoyed manner. A grandma holding a bag of water chestnuts pulls on my shirt and tells me to “nevermind them.” I blush and we exchange smiles thoughtfully. For a moment, my mind clears; grace shuts out the noise.
Thank you Jesus. Thank you for Grandma.
I am walking on the beach alone, palm trees wave over me, gently acknowledging my presence against the vast horizon. Waves crash onto creamy beige sand and ripple toward my bare feet. The scenery is heavenly, but my mind is wrestling, turning thought over thought. I am physically and mentally tired. Tears flow down as I wonder, “Should we stay or should we go…”
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
I’m sure, like me, you’ve had one of those days—when you are bombarded with noise coming at you in every direction, externally and internally.
Life is noise. Noise can be distracting, deafening, unsettling, or intrusive. It can take up space and leave you ragged. Or… noise can awaken your mind. In fact, I think sometimes noise can bring a hyper-awareness to our need for Jesus, to align ourselves with His peace, to bring clarity, comfort, and understanding.
There is no special trick or suggestion I can offer you for navigating the noise in your life. The reality is, we have to manage noise—our thoughts, our surroundings, our own voice, and the voices of others—on a constant basis. Some noise we have no control over (think crowing rooster at 4 am or that construction crew down the street) and some noise (like our thoughts) we can be intentional about.
In my dreams, I think that a “quiet” walk or break from the daily household clamor will quiet my soul. But this only works sometimes. Usually, the moment I experience silence, my thoughts become louder, the lists longer, the abrasive words stronger, and my worries heavier. Even in the “silence”, my mind can be frantic with noise.
Honestly, the only thing I’ve found that helps quiet the noise around and in me is to pray the name of Jesus over and over again. Sometimes I recite verses or hum worship songs. By attuning myself to the presence of Christ, in the midst of the quiet and the fray, I am able to reset my thoughts, take a breath, align my attitude, or just meditate on a Scripture that brings comfort or clarity. Though the noise in my head may not always completely dissipate, there is often a shift in my mindset or my physical well-being (lowered heart rate or slower breathing).
Jesus also lived in a noisy world: he was inundated with crowds of people, prodded, followed, interrupted, or woken up in the middle of the night. Sometimes he got away to a quiet place, and other times he remained present, but all the time he remained in tune with the Father. Christ blocked out temptation, wrestled with grief, and quieted worried crowds through prayer and Scripture. Like the examples given above, we can do this too.
Friends, it’s not always about escaping the noise; more often than not, it’s about quieting the noise inside. So whatever situation you find yourself in, remember, in the quiet and in the fray, say His Name.
How do you attune yourself to Christ in the midst of the noise? Please share any phrases or meditations that help quiet your soul.