“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”[Mother Teresa]
It may be a huge understatement to say this past year was noisy. At least for me, the political news vied for my attention, the COVID news felt essential, my WhatsApp and email messages were constant and then there’s my home, which was most definitely in a near perpetual state of noise!
There’s this idea that to be learning and growing, we need to be informed, connected, keeping up. It can be almost shameful to be “uninformed.” Is it possible, however, that often the best learning happens in the quiet? That when we spend time in reflection, praying through what is happening, that our hearts and minds learn the character of God anew, his faithfulness again?
In Isaiah, we get a glimpse of what God intends for his people: “My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Is. 32:18) and “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Is. 30:15). This is both the eschatological vision and the hope of shalom breaking into earth now.
But rather than embracing the strength which comes from quietness and trust, we trade our own souls at peace for our sense of being informed. We exchange eyes fixed on Christ for eyes scanning the headlines, the feeds, the photos. We offer up our deep trust in our Father for the cheapened fear perpetuated by media outlets worldwide. We join the rest of the world in fear, anxiety, and distraction. What can we do?
I would like to humbly suggest that in these noisy times, the challenge before us is to tune out the noise. It’s coming at us from all angles. We all know the sources of noise have increased tenfold in a single generation. It is no longer a challenge to be informed; to keep up. Rather, it is a challenge to carve spaces of quiet, to slow our minds, to pursue peace in our hearts.
And to what end do we tune out, and seek quiet?
- To wait for the Lord, because we know he will act: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7)
- To pursue peace deeply within our souls: “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content” (Psalm 131:2)
- To magnify the beauty of our gospel-changed hearts: “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4)
- To win the respect of outsiders: “Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters… to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12)
Am I willing to risk being uninformed in order to be at peace in my soul?
Am I willing to let go of the cheap sources of entertainment that add to the noise?
Am I willing to sit in silence for a few minutes—highly uncomfortable for those of us who are new to it—in order to hear the voice of God?
Am I willing to carve out those moments in my day?
When God’s women are at peace in their souls, they can offer hope to a restless world. When God’s women adorn themselves with a quiet spirit, they are authentically beautiful. When God’s women prioritize the stillness of their souls, they are prioritizing being filled by the Spirit. When God’s women seek to lead quiet lives, a watching world will take notice.
Let us know the value and wisdom in tuning out. Let us seek to put away the noise, to focus our eyes anew on Christ, and to reflect the light and beauty of Christ to an anxious world.
What about you? Are you feeling the need to tune out more than ever? What are some steps you’ve taken that have helped you tune out the noise and focus your mind and heart on Christ in these days?
 Teresa, M. (2010). In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories, and Prayers. New World Library.