I used to be afraid of silence. For years I was drawn to the idea of silent retreats, but I didn’t have the courage to attend one. Honestly, the idea of being alone with my thoughts for several days didn’t sound like the best plan for my mental health. I was afraid that the silence would just be an open opportunity for my head to be filled with anxious thoughts that would race through my head uncontrolled. At that point, I relied on distraction to get me through the day. If I thought too much about the struggles in my life, I was afraid I would be overcome by them. To say that my mind and my life at that point were cluttered with busy-ness would have been a gross understatement.
It took years before I conquered my fear and got up the courage to attend a silent retreat recommended to me by a priest. I signed up, packed my bags, and headed to the retreat center with a bunch of women I had never met before. I was introduced to my roommate for the weekend, and we exchanged pleasantries before the silence began.
The first event of the retreat was a reflection by the priest who would be our retreat director. He read a passage of Scripture and then instructed us on theological insights and historical context. He then sent us off in silence to reflect on God’s Word and to pray. Surprisingly, I found that the silence helped me to gain peace and to stay focused in prayer. I wasn’t consumed with anxiety. Instead, I felt peace and calm that only increased as the retreat continued.
By the end of the retreat, I had found the beauty and peace that silence can give. In the silence, I felt close to God. I could hear Him. Since that retreat, I’ve craved silence. I’ve sought it out. I’ve looked for it and tried to carve out even small chunks of time just to get a few minutes of silence here and there.
As moms, it’s so hard to carve out silence in our daily lives. There’s always noise. The baby is crying. The six-year old needs help with school work. The 12 year-old just got in a fight with a friend and needs comfort. Moms are always on demand and rarely are those demands quiet.
But silence and prayer are like exercise: The less time you have for it, the more you probably need it. The trick is, how? How do you find time for silence in your daily life? Early mornings and late nights are often the best time for me. And, surprisingly, time alone in the car (if you can get it) can be a great source of silence.
I haven’t yet found a way to have large chunks of silence in my life but I’m going to keep seeking it. You see, I’m not afraid of silence anymore. And you don’t have to be either. Just remember, we hear God in the silence.
Copyright 2019 Laura B. Nelson