A few weeks ago, I turned the radio in my car off. I think it was an annoying commercial that I was hearing for the millionth time that prompted me to hit the off button, but it stuck.
I started hearing the sounds my car made. (They all sound weird and scary when you actually notice them.) I started paying more attention to the things passing me by as I drove. I realized my mind was wandering and thinking about interesting things, and I made note of new ideas I was having and new thoughts that were springing up.
Something in the silence gave me space and permission to explore more freely.
My life is often loud, and busy, and cluttered. I’m bombarded with messages everywhere I look, whether out the window or on my phone or even just around my room. There are a million things trying to get my attention and hold onto it, but I’m so easily distracted and spread thin. I go from one event to the next, scrolling on my phone in between, jumping from one conversation right into another, filling every gap with words and music and likes and comments, never giving myself a chance to just breathe.
But the silence in my car has given me time to take a breath.
I’ve started praying more in the silence. I’ve started giving God more of my undivided attention. I’ve realized He was there in the silence all along. But just like when my radio is up loud and I can’t hear the sounds my car makes, I wasn’t hearing God’s voice because the noise of my life was turned up too high.
It’s like in 1 Kings 19:12-- the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake, and He wasn’t in the fire, but He was in the gentle whisper. It’s only when I quieted the chaos and noise around me that I started to pay more attention to His voice and the things I felt Him stirring inside of me. I would have missed it if I hadn’t gotten quiet.
It’s not easy to do, even for an introvert like me. When I get quiet, when I actually put my phone down, turn the music off, and sit still with my thoughts, I have to actually face what’s going on inside of me. The distractions are usually quite welcome, especially when things feel messy and I’m not really sure I want to acknowledge what all is going on internally. I can trick myself into thinking I’m not that lonely when I’m on Instagram seeing posts from friends and feeling connected to the outside world, but when I close the app and I’m still just alone in my room, reality starts to set in. I can attempt to keep my anxiety at bay with upbeat songs in my headphones, but when I shut Spotify, I can feel the emotions start to bubble up within me and the tears start to well up again.
The silence can be scary, though. It can feel hugely vulnerable to remove the distractions, turn down the noise, and actually be present with my thoughts, my feelings, my worries, and even with God. But what I know is this: Psalm 46 says that God is my refuge and my strength. He is a help in times of trouble, when depression rears its ugly head and anxiety flares and everything falls apart. He is strengthening me and helping me moment by moment. He is always with me, bringing peace and comfort, restoring everything that was broken. And He is inviting me to simply be still and remember that He is God.
In the silence of my car, in the moments of stillness I’m learning to carve out in my day, I’m remembering God’s goodness. I’m reminding myself of His presence and His faithfulness.
And just like a gentle whisper, I’m starting to hear His voice speak to me there.