There is an art to being quiet, because silence is an eloquent language. Silence can be a balm of comfort or a roar of rage. Silence is the tranquility of a sunset or the charged stillness before a storm. A naturally quiet person is a very rare bird and that is not me. I’m a seagull and God is teaching me to be quiet.
Being Quiet in Discomfort
I wrote Friday about the lessons God teaches me when He makes me uncomfortable, and being silent is another one. When I am uncomfortable, I can only go on for a little while before the discomfort must be addressed. And I don’t mean that I have to address the person who’s making me uncomfortable; I mean that I have to figure out what’s happening to me, if it isn’t obvious. For example, if I’m behind a couple at the grocery checkout and they start arguing and the woman turns to me and says, “Don’t you just hate it when men (fill in the blank)?!” I know exactly why I’m uncomfortable in that situation. A total stranger just hit me in the face with her troubled marriage. That’s pretty straightforward. That’s not the uncomfortable that sits like a rock in my gut or a burn in my heart until I go to God.
I’m talking about the conversation that seems perfectly normal until you walk away and realize that you feel like you’ve tripped and fallen into a running wood chipper. Or the dinner party that you’ve looked forward to for weeks only to find that ten minutes in there’s a strange chaos at work that knocks you for a loop and makes any meaningful heart connection impossible. This is the uncomfortable that hits the very core of you and hides.
Being Quiet instead of Talking
All my life I’ve dealt with these gut-punches by talking it out. I usually found that if I talked about it enough then I could grasp the problem sufficiently to deal with it. But my goal pre-salvation was to right the listing ship of my comfort, not step into the Light that heals. I only ever dealt with things to the depth necessary to keep going. And being quiet is the enemy of a life lived in maintenance mode, so I talked.
God makes me uncomfortable to get my attention, but the only path to His solution is my being quiet. Now that I’m His, maintenance mode doesn’t work for me. It’s just not enough. So sooner or later – and it’s now sooner rather than later – I will choose to get quiet and wait for Him to speak to me. It’s not easy for me to discipline my tongue after a lifetime of chat-heavy tactics. God knows this, and He knows exactly how to deal with me. Sometimes it’s “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me,” and sometimes it’s “Because His compassions fail not.”
The Art of Being Quiet
Being quiet is a choice and a discipline; it’s not merely the absence of words. If I am resentful and angry, then it may take a while for me to be quiet even though I’m not speaking. “Let be and be still and know that I am God”—this is the art of being quiet. I must silence my errant thoughts and breathe the hush of the Holy Spirit into my heart. Then I marshal my focus, honing in on God and God alone, gazing at Jesus until my whole being is quietly waiting on Him.
This is not natural to me and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And make no mistake, without fierce motivation I will not be quiet. My motivation is love and that comes from Him. When I say I love God, I’m saying that I don’t work without Him. I need Him for everything. I can’t live this life without His voice, without His chastening, without His heart, without His eyes, without His forgiveness, without His mercy, without His LOVE. This isn’t gooey, giggly, teddy-bear-love. This is there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I-love. This love grabs the outstretched Hand of God because one more wave will take me under for good. This is true love born of true need. That’s what I mean when I say I love God.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5 ESV
Love motivates me to be quiet, and the rewards of that silence are so great that I find myself moved to more regularly pursue the divine art of being quiet.