Face it. We are afraid of what will happen if we turn off all the noise.
By Louis Spivak
In modern culture, it almost seems like silence is extinct. We have given noise our consent to fill every moment of life.
Alarms begin the day, and soft ballads sounding from our speakers call it to a close. Even in those “silent prayers” at church, an acoustic instrument strums in the background to keep us safe from the perfect still.
And it’s not just sonic noise, but even the mental noise that comes from constant entertainment. Through our smartphones, our tablets and our laptops, we always have access to a virtual world that demands our attention. We have created sources of sound and distraction for every situation. As a result, silence has become fantasy, a neverland we choose to not visit. And why bother? To be socially accepted, we must be culturally connected. To be culturally connected, we have to listen to the roar.
But there are benefits to silence that we often overlook in our noisy lives. Here are just a few of the reasons we need more silence and stillness in our lives:
Silence Allows Us to Really Feel
Sometimes, we choose noise because we’re afraid of what we might feel if we slow down. For a while, hiding in the entertainment clamour allows us to elude our loneliness and insecurities, as it seemingly connects us to everyone else. But this tactic eventually fails, because the answer to our brokenness is not found by avoiding the problem, but pressing into it.
Choosing the quiet requires courage. However, if we just numb ourselves with noise, life loses its sanctifying grittiness. Silence revels our formerly muted pains, and it is these wounds that need exposing. Sorrow is not a demon stealing joy, but a revelation of brokenness—it allows us to really press in to all the hard issues we don’t want to think about: the meaning of life, the human condition, the need for eternal restoration.
These discovered tragedies, both suppressed emotional injuries and separation from salvation, are like infected wounds that won’t heal until they’re treated. With silence, healing begins.
Silence Pushes Us Into True Community
“You are alone.” These three words are often the ones we hear and feel when our lives become quiet. Whether we recognize this or not, our lifelong quest for community is also our desperate attempt to silence that phrase. This encountered loneliness revealed in the quiet terrifies us, and instead of stopping to explore and understand it, we flee.
Everyone has an innate desire to belong. It’s a healthy desire that we often try to satisfy in unhealthy ways. By silencing the entertaining distractions, we can study both the longing and the terror we have of being alone. Being quiet allows opportunity for self-reflection.
Everyone encounters loneliness, and in a strange way, the awareness of this universal pain provides solace and camaraderie. We are not alone in our aloneness.
Silence Allows Us to Hear Jesus
Beginning to embrace the silence is a difficult process. After a lifetime of preferring noise, our tendency as individuals and as a culture is to fill the noise voids with sound of some kind. But to encounter the Creator’s voice of love, we have to reclaim those moments from our entertainment-driven lives. Small decisions to power off lead to more significant choices that affect our selection of personal soundtracks. Instead of incessant melodies, we begin to appreciate the pauses.
In the midst of the audio swirl, the Creator speaks softly. Often, His voice does not try to compete or to overwhelm the other sounds. It beckons. It implores. It asks us to silence the chaos, the entertainment, the other voices. The clamor must cease for us to find what we all search for. When the hush finally begins, then we can listen. Then, we can conquer the discouraging voices that promise loneliness. Then, we can hear the affirmations that our hearts earnestly crave. “You belong. You are loved. You are mine.”