For the last year I have been taking time every week to be silent. No, this isn’t a massive vow of silence or anything. And yes, for those of you who know me, I can definitely struggle with being silent. I love to teach and talk, and even when things are hard or I have problems I tend to talk the problem out. I am thankful for the people in my life who are great listeners who can let me talk out my problems. But I am finding something that works even better – silence. It is taking time before I talk to others to bring my problem to God, and pray, and just think with Jesus. I have found it works a lot better. It is what I really need. I think I need to work on trying this a lot more before I talk to others. I am not there yet, but I think it is a good idea!
Often when I have had a stressful day, full of projects that need to be done and people that need help, I come home and start watching TV or playing video games. Of course I spend time with my family and give love to my wife and kids. But I tell my kids, “Daddy has had a long day, I just need to watch TV for a little while.” That “little while” turns into 2 hours – and my family hasn’t gotten the attention they need. Even worse, at the end of all this TV time I don’t feel rejuvenated or refreshed – I feel more tired. It seems that isn’t what I really need. I am finding that when I have had a hard day, 15-20 minutes of silence, thinking, and prayer with Jesus gives me what I really need. I dive into God’s Word and it gives me strength. I can then walk in my door and spend time with my kids, play with them, or even watch TV with them – but focused on them. I can listen more attentively to my wife and have energy to share my day with her. I love to talk, but maybe silence is what I really need.
There are just so many false promises out there, so many habits we have to help us, but they don’t really help us. Silence, prayer, God’s Word, spending time with Him – these work. I try to spend one hour per week in silence, it is a spiritual practice. I have found that practice spilling over into other areas of my life. When a hard day comes: stop-pray-silence-think. When I am talking with someone who is struggling, before I give advice I ask if we can pray together, and the beginning of the prayer is often silent. When my wife and I get into an argument, I am working to go to silence before my anger flares up. Silence – time with Jesus in the midst of life – is a huge gift. And it works!
So I hope you won’t take this as some sage advice from some spiritual giant or mystic guru. I am far from it. I have a hard time keeping my house clean and mowing my lawn! I still watch TV too much and talk too much. I have a long way to grow and go in my walk with Jesus. But I wanted to pass on something I have been trying – because it works. Jesus is truly our heart’s longing, and time with Him gives us what we really need.