Most of the time what we teach others is actually what we need to learn ourselves. I wrote a post right before Thanksgiving about slowing down and finding silence in order to focus on God’s word. I was feeling the rush of travel preparations and wrote a post as a meditation on finding God in the silence in the midst of our noisy world. I thought it was a good thought, but not ready to publish, so I published something else that week. I never could have guessed how much I would need to read it just a few weeks later.
From four weeks ago:
For an introvert, I don’t handle quiet well. When the podcasts turn off and my newsfeed darkens, the quiet inside my head grows deafening. As a stay at home mom lacking adult conversation for 40 hours a week, it can be tempting to use the crutch of a good podcast, or social media to feel connected to something outside of myself. But these paper thin props only gloss over the deep-seated need for connection.
I can only hear the need in the deafening silence.
But in the same silence, I can also hear my own anxiety. I still feel the anxiety in the middle of the noise, but it chokes me. In the quiet, I can offer it up to God as too big for me to hold. Then I can breath in the air of trust, knowing God is good and he is for me. I have trouble knowing this truth in the middle of the noise.
In the silence, I can focus. I can follow a train of thought and see where it goes. These rambling thoughts frequently lead to prayers I didn’t know needed to be prayed, or ideas better than anything on my to-do list.
In the quiet, when my thoughts aren’t bombarded with information, I am more myself and more in conversation with God.
This morning while my son napped, instead of hunting down a distraction, which is always tempting, I sat with a few pages of scripture, double spaced, 12 point font, lots of white space on the page for marking and arrow drawing. Armed with colored pens and coffee, I read and re-read. Then I re-read some more. I familiarized myself with the warp and weft of the chapter, its rhythms and patterns.
Peace settled into my soul along with the words on the page. The goodness of God was found in the stillness, in the focused train of thought dwelling on his Word. With the laptop in another room and the cellphone who knows where, I was able to train my mind on the the word of God. In that, I saw the goodness of God for this moment and this day, which would surge at me in the form of a toddler waking ravenous.
We’ll walk to the grocery store. He’ll eat from his stroller tray, drawing adoring looks from passersby. Then we’ll check items off a list and rush home for his afternoon nap. The next ten days will be a whirlwind of travel and friends and family. Silence will be taken over by plane engines and airport announcements and the greeting of old friends, long unseen. Squeals over little blue eyes and walking feet. GPS directions and car horns. Meals cooking, dominoes clinking and cousins playing.
Quietness of soul can be found again even in the midst of a happy holiday by resting in the God’s word. It’s warp and weft, it’s depths to plumb. The felt goodness of God in greetings and meals is anchored in his communicated goodness in Scripture. If only we can quiet our souls to hear.
Now after Thanksgiving, I need to pursue silence even more. But the pull toward noise to deafen my thoughts is even stronger.
The plan was to travel to see friends and family. We did, but the visit was not what we had hoped. Instead, my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My spry, healthy, active Granny.
She died two weeks later.
I never knew cancer could be so sudden. This was not a slow fade to death. She was healthy with some unexplained itching. Then suddenly, she was gone.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t post last week, now you know. Words were hard.
Pursuing silence is harder now. Not the least because our household is sick with a seasonal yuckiness that makes toddlers miserable and toddler’s parents exhausted. And of course, clogged drains needs clearing, and another holiday needs preparing for. Life keeps going in the midst of grief.
Grief makes me want to run from stillness.
In the quiet, I cry for a grief too big for me to hold.
Yet in the same silence, I behold God big enough to hold my grief.
More than at most times, I need to make space to see that God is good, and he is for me. It is where I can know he holds grief. He holds anger at cancer. He holds a whole family under the weather in a week of grief.
He holds the gentle memory of my son playing peekaboo with his great-grandmother and the grief which now colors it. He holds the knowledge that my little boy won’t remember his great-grandmother delighting in him through the pain of her fatal diagnosis.
In meditating on God through his word, I get to know his peace even in the silence.