Quiet Enough

Santha Yinger – Mental Health & Wellness Ministry Lead - Real Life Ministries - Post Falls, ID

Could it really be?  Samuel lay in bed waiting, breathing slowly, listening.  He knew he had heard his name twice before. Each time he had run to Eli, yet Eli insisted he had not called him.  But then, Eli said someone else may be speaking his name, Ywhw, himself.  So, Samuel waited.

Quiet enough to listen, still enough to hear.

Quiet enough to listen, still enough to hear – those are challenging actions in our world. Being honest, I find it challenging.  Rarely is my world quiet, whether it’s the environment around me or the self-induced noise I create.  Music, podcasts, audio books, YouTube, social media, ruminating thoughts – even good ones can fill my mind with constant noise.  Studies show I am not alone.  We live in one of the noisiest times in world history. The United States is a dopamine driven nation. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain which brings immediate pleasure but is never satisfied. It requires more and more, thus very addictive.  Every day – I carry around in my hand a dopamine dispenser, my smart phone. I appreciate the usefulness of my hand-held computer, but I have had to wrestle with the downside.

As a human being, and as followers of Jesus, beloved children of God, and intentional disciple-makers – quiet is essential to our well-being.  Jesus withdrew to quiet and solitary places on a regularly basis. Trace Jesus’ life through the book of Luke; you will find the consistent theme Jesus praying.  Prayer is a conversation not a ritual.  Conversations require presence and listening otherwise they become monologues.  Jesus stepped away from his own earthly world filled with needs and people to be quiet with his father, to talk and listen, to rest and connect. As a human, his intentional times of connection with his father gave him direction for his life.  Think of how Mark records Jesus knowing to go to other towns when the perceived need was to stay. (Mark 1:32-38) Other times of Jesus intentionally seeking quiet include before selecting his twelve disciples, or asking his disciples who they thought he was.  Quiet – times of being still, listening, waiting, being with are seen all throughout Jesus’ life.

Jesus modeled our need to be quiet.  Research is affirming our need to be quiet.  Brain scans show the impact of constant noise and activity with a decrease in gray matter and increase in white matter.  One of the biggest predictors of long-term mental well-being is the ability to quiet oneself, to return to ease and rest after stimulation. Whether this is after an enjoyable moment or after a hard event quieting is necessary for human beings to function well.

Being quiet before the Lord, stilled and listening is essential as followers and disciple-makers of Jesus.  Beautiful things happen as one sits in quiet with God, such as restoration of our souls. Direction, correction, and affection also come from the quiet.  Direction – disciple making is a partnership with the Holy Spirit walking with others as they follow Jesus. I have experienced the Holy Spirit showing me how to love the person I was discipling enough to deal with a specific deep lifestyle issue before they were ready to acknowledge the issue.  If I am not quiet and listening to the Holy Spirit, how will I know how to partner with him? Correction for my own sinful patterns, thoughts or behaviors has often come in the quiet still moments. Affection – it is in the quiet the Lord speaks word of his deep love in a relational way, beyond informational. The roots of my attachment to God and my identity of who I am as a child of God grow in the quiet moments of being in his presence.

If quieting is essential both as a human being and a disciple-making follower of Jesus, how do we nurture it in a world full of noise and distraction? Start small.  New habits are best made and sustained by small steps consistently, frequently, regularly practiced.  Trust the cumulative effect.

  • If you have a regular time with Jesus add 5 minutes of silence to it. If you find yourself restless or easily distracted use a scripture phrase to quiet your mind like something from Psalm 23.
  • As you transition from one thing to another like between tasks, phone calls, events, meetings, or even locations, take 30 seconds. Breathe deeply. Relax your body. Pause. Tell the Lord you are listening. And be still for a moment.
  • Manage the digital devices in your life. Take a digital fast, regularly, whether it is for an hour or a day. Create digital free zones such as dinner time.  Find ways to detox from dopamantine.  Take a daily 10–15-minute walk, outside if possible., with no devices.
  • Use some tools to help you grow. Invite a friend or a family member to join you in your small habit of choice – or to ask you about what you are discovering.  Find an app to help you manage digital use.  Utilize an app to help you engage with stillness.  I like the Pause app by John Eldredge.  Read a book to gain some skills and practices. Silence and Solitude or Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton may be helpful.

Engaging with quiet is a way of guarding our hearts.  May you guard it well; it is precious. May you find ways to consistently be quiet enough to listen, still enough to hear.

by

Santha Yinger
Mental Health & Wellness Ministry Lead
Real Life Ministries
Post Falls, ID