Why it's important to stop running from silence

Rachel Nafziger

No cure. Complex. Degenerative.

As I left the doctor’s office, I tried to wrap my mind around what was happening, but I didn’t actually want to think about it. I was only 30 years old. I loved being active and going on adventures with my husband. We were also talking about starting a family. Everything I felt like my life had been building toward was suddenly now on hold.

I didn’t know what to do with the emotions that were stirring up inside me, so I ignored them. I put on a smile and tried to stay positive. Maybe the doctor was wrong. Maybe God would heal me. I kept myself busy with projects, watched more television, and scrolled through endless social media feeds. I did just about anything to avoid quiet, still moments of self-reflection. 

I was running from silence.

The Danger of Distractions

There has never been an easier time in history to be distracted. We have Netflix, smartphones, online gaming, and shopping to fill every second in our already full schedules. We use words like “awkward” to describe silence, and we can only be still if we are looking at a screen.

On the surface, distractions seem harmless. They help us relax after a long day at work or keep us entertained in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. However, distractions are dangerous if they keep us from hearing God’s voice.

Distractions are dangerous if they keep us from hearing God’s voice.

In a world of chaos, God often speaks in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). If we never allow time for silence and stillness, we can miss out on what He is trying to tell us. 

Still, quiet moments of self-reflection and prayer are essential for our spiritual and emotional health (Psalm 46:10). They invite us to be honest with ourselves and with God (Psalm 139:23-24). Even Jesus frequently sought out quiet places to reflect and pray (Matthew 14:23 and Mark 1:35). 

How to Spend Time Alone with God

Silence can be uncomfortable, especially when we have been avoiding it. Here are some tips to help you get over the initial awkwardness and get the most out of your time alone with God.

1. Schedule it and tell a friend.

If you aren’t intentional, it won’t happen. Pick a day and time to unplug, reflect, and listen. Then, tell someone your plans. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us to encourage one another and build each other up. Accountability and encouragement can make a big difference, so ask your friend to check in with you afterward. 

2. Go somewhere peaceful and avoid distractions.

A crowded coffee shop or your messy kitchen table is probably not the best environment to help you focus. If the weather permits, go to a pretty park, the mountains, or anywhere that makes you feel closer to God. If you need to stay indoors, find a quiet space free from distractions. Leave your electronics behind or keep them out of sight.

3. Reflect, write, and pray.

When we try to ignore or hide our emotions, they don’t go away. They fester and spread, like a disease. Confront them. Write out what you are feeling and thinking without holding back. 

Then, give whatever is troubling you to God (1 Peter 5:7). We do not have to carry the weight of life by ourselves. Next, spend some time evaluating your heart. Ask God to reveal any sin in your life then confess and ask for forgiveness. When we do,“[God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

4. Read the Bible and listen to God’s voice.

God speaks to us through the Bible and in a gentle whisper (Hebrews 4:12 and John 10:27). If you want to hear from God, read the Bible and spend some time in silence listening. If you need some help deciding what to read, try one of these studies.

Silence brings clarity and healing. When I finally stopped avoiding silence and spent time alone with God, I was surprised by the outcome. Instead of feeling shame or condemnation, I felt like a burden had been lifted off of me. My circumstances did not change, but I found freedom and grace when I was willing to be honest with myself and with God.

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