by Melissa Parkhouse
It’s pervasive. Intrusive.
It’s so much a part of our daily lives that we don’t realise what we are hearing anymore. We’ve dulled our senses to tune it out.
A few years ago when wind storms knocked out power throughout most of our city for 2 days, I was struck by how quiet it was! Inside a home with no furnace running. No electricity buzzing. No appliances humming…
With no power there was a different kind of silence too. No TV. No internet. No email. No distractions.
We live in a culture today that demands immediate attention at all times. TV’s become the background noise to our existence. Commercials get louder and more invasive. Smart phones create immediate access to billions of bits of information at a moments notice. They buzz. They chime. And all those the little red notifications of “look at me now! I demand your immediate response!” Friends can text instead of call. Exchanging brief moments of interaction for real connection. We are distracted by everything that is vying for our attention. And we are held prisoners by the demands of the lives that we have built.
But is this the kind of environment that the human heart was designed to flourish in?
Over and over throughout the life of Jesus we see him withdrawing from crowds, and even his disciples, to be still and pray (Luke 5:16). He would withdraw from crowds, he would head out into the wilderness, he would find lonely places, so that he could be alone with his Father.
Even Jesus had to be intentional in creating space to hear from God.
So why don’t we?
There are several reasons we run toward noise and away from silence:
1. Silence is Confrontative.
Being still with only the company of yourself can be scary. We often keep the noise level high because we don’t actually like who we are. Stillness gives us time to evaluate the inconsistencies in our lives- and that can be downright painful! We choose busy over growth. We choose avoidance over change. We choose noise to mask the discomfort of our existence.
2. We’re in Pain
Chances are there isn’t a person reading this blog who has not suffered pain in one way, shape, or another. We are highly aware of the sting of rejection, the painful embarrassment of shame, the sharp stab of guilt, or other forms of assault that have damaged us to the core of our being. When we’re in pain, we want to escape it. So we choose our drug of choice: chronic busy-ness, technology additions and overpacked schedules. We create elaborate, busy lives to stay far away from the pain in our hearts.
3. We’re Afraid
What will you discover if you were to put down the computer and just be still? Are you afraid of what you will find? Will what you discover force you to change? Change is uncomfortable but it is absolutely necessary to live the life that you were called and destined for!
The other aspect of fear is we are afraid that if we set aside time to be still and listen and perhaps lean into the Lord, that He won’t show up. That He does speak, but not to you. That lie is straight from hell and designed to keep you far away from your loving Father. The testimony of Scripture is that God is the God who loves to speak to his children.
One of the best things you can do for your personal and spiritual growth is turn down the noise level in your life. That doesn’t just mean volume, it also means turning down distractions, interruptions and busy-ness in favor of creating space in your life where you can have quietness, stillness and focused attention on the Lord. So I challenge you. Turn down the noise level in your life. For the benefit of your entire being, turn it down.
You might discover that you not only like it, but that your life begins to flourish as a result.
Here is a short list of things you might try as you work on turning down the volume level of your life:
1. Clear some time in your schedule.
Is everything on your schedule absolutely necessary? Take some time to sift through the essential and non essential things on your to-do list and weekly schedule. Block out time for stillness. Put it on your calendar and schedule things around those times you have set.
2. Turn off the technology
Shut off the TV. Turn off the music. Walk away from your computer screen. Turn your phone off. Log out of social media. There is nothing in your life that is so urgent that you cannot leave each one of those technologies alone for an hour or more each day. If you struggle with doing that, I challenge you to evaluate your addiction to the technology in your life.
3. Turn off the push notifications
You are not at the beck and call of a digital device. You can decide when you want to check your email or social media page. The urgency goes away when you don’t have chimes, vibrations and little red icons demanding your attention all the time.
4. Set some healthy boundaries
If your schedule is overpacked because you have a hard time saying no to people, it’s time to lovingly stop saying yes. It’s important to be clear on your boundaries so you can determine who has access to your life and how much. That’s not mean or unChristlike, it’s wisdom! Make a list: Who will I always give time to? That should be a pretty short list and definitely should include God, time for yourself, your family and a few key friends. Everything else can work around a reasonable schedule in your life.
Turn down for what? Turn down for the benefit of your soul. Turn down, to learn a new way of being. Turn down, so you can connect with the Lover of your soul. Turn down, so you can gain life.