This series on The Discipline of Silence coincides with another series being posted by my good friend, Rick, at Planned Peasanthood. Please take time to read Rick’s first two posts in the series, Quiet on the Set – Discipline of Silence, Part I and Discipline of Silence, Part II – It’s Golden. Rick & I have “talked” extensively about this topic and felt that covering the topic of silence at the same time would provide a unique understanding of the role silence can play. Rick & I come from very different backgrounds, yet the Holy Spirit has weaved our perspectives together in a way that only He can.

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7-30-13 sshhShh! Quiet Please!

Libraries used to be quiet places to study and read with minimal distraction. Not so anymore. At least, not at my local public library. People are on computers watching videos without using earphones. Others talk on cell phones at conversational volume. Some use the library for meetings. Even patrons looking for books and the librarians shelving them talk as if they were in their living rooms.

Less and less silence exists for many people,  and seeking it out – even in places where silence used to be expected – is becoming increasingly difficult.

One of my favorite places to run is a local park with miles of trails as well as a disc golf course. When out running recently, I came upon some golfers carrying a radio with them. The sound of the radio in this natural setting was offensive to my spirit. For me, it further illustrated our culture’s avoidance of silence.

I know people who say they need the television on all day “for noise.” Others need music constantly playing, especially when alone. More and more, people seem unable to exist in quietness. And most don’t seem to think it’s a problem.

Why do people avoid silence? People avoid silence to avoid…

  • Hearing their own thoughts.
  • Their conscience.
  • Hearing the Holy Spirit.
  • Thinking about their problems.

If not for avoidance, maybe the absence of silence involves more a habit of…

  • Being entertained.
  • Laziness, apathy or idleness.
  • Letting culture dictate thoughts.
  • An undisciplined mind.
  • An uncontrolled thought life.

Or maybe a lack of silence speaks volumes about a person’s belief system. Perhaps people simply…

  • Don’t value in silence.
  • Don’t believe they need silence.
  • Think silence is scary.

Do you constantly need the television on “for noise”? Do you constantly have music playing? When was the last time you sat in silence, just thinking? Do you enjoy quiet places and spending time in quiet solitude? Consider these questions as you consider the role silence can play in a person’s life.

In our noisy culture, many fail to even realize the constant flow of noise. That is, until it’s taken away. When noise disappears, many realize they dislike silence and then proceed to do whatever they can to fill the void failing to get at the bigger question of why silence bothers them.

Our culture certainly advocates sounds and noises and busyness, all of which work against silence and quiet. Before delving into the value of silence, we must recognize that silence may not always be the best option.

When Silence Isn’t Golden7-30-13 silence

Yes, too much silence can be detrimental and can indicate a larger problem. Silence is not golden when it involves…

  1. Negative self-talk.
  2. Lack of connection.
  3. Lack of information.
  4. Unreasonable emotions.
  5. “What if” thinking.

An important aspect of mental balance and spiritual health involves interaction with people. As we live, work and play in the company of others, we  connect our thoughts in meaningful ways that fail to happen in isolation and silence.

The Need for Silence

We need balance between the noise we encounter and the silence we seek. Certainly, a completely silent and isolated existence does not create a healthy mental or spiritual state.  But our culture is not one where many people live in too much silence. In fact, too much noise often lies at the heart of many people’s lives.

And in that noise, we miss out on a crucial road to balance that only silence can provide.  We need silence to connect with our deeper selves. We need it to process our interactions and the ideas generated as we connect with others.  We need silence to process the information that comes at us constantly in our busy and noisy world. We need silence to grow as individuals.

Bob Edelstein in “The Power of Silence” says that “creative engagement with our internal processes allows us to discover more of who we are, to take in previously hidden aspects of ourselves, and to reconfigure ourselves, if we so choose. This is what allows us to be more deeply authentic in the present moment.”

In other words, we need silence to be who we were made to be and to do what we were purposed to do. The Discipline of Silence, Part II looks at the tremendous benefit that silence brings to our existence. We’ll look at scripture to discover the role silence plays in our discipleship and in our spiritual growth.

DISCUSSION: Why do you think our culture is so noisy? Why is this a problem?