In one week, I basically went crazy and got my life back.
I've been feeling like I'm drowning in auditory stimulation- constantly filling the silence with something on in the background. So I decided to go for it- to cut out the noise and just see what happens, no expectations.
I honestly didn't think it would be hard at all but I was forced to learn some tough lessons about myself and my daily rhythms. I don't even know if I would recommend it without explaining the symptoms of withdrawals... so here they are:
1. Extreme awareness of your thoughts and feelings about anything and everything
4. More Energy
5. An increased interest in people and anything people have to say about anything
6. The feeling that days are longer, and life is full of opportunity
7. More sleep, better sleep
8. Stronger friendships
9. Increased vocabulary (readers are leaders!)
10. Gratitude and appreciation
There were several times throughout the week I felt genuinely uncomfortable. I was really frustrated by how much I was impacted by not being able to lean on my automatic response to silence, especially in the places I spend most of my time- the car, work, and at home.
I was really challenged to listen and reflect. I was amazed by how much I had to say when I got home, how much I learned and noticed throughout the day. I started to wonder...
What would happen if I stopped trying fill my time, and started, instead, to be filled by it?
There were a couple of stories I heard that helped guid my reflection on the importance of listening.
We've been reading about the early church and how the apostles were being imprisoned all over the place for preaching about Jesus, performing miracles, etc.
In one story, Paul and Silas are just sitting in prison praying and singing, and suddenly there's an earthquake. Everything crumbles. No one is hurt. Doors unlocked. Chains are broken. They are free.
But they don't leave.
The guard wakes up and is like 'Dang, my job was to guard these guys and now they're free. Now I have to take my life in exchange for theirs'... So he takes out his sword to take his own life and Paul is like 'Hey man, no need to do that, we are all still here!' The guards life is not only saved, but completely changed because the prisoners didn't leave.
In another story, the apostles are imprisoned. In the night, just like in the first story, the doors are opened, the chains undone, they are free. And they leave the prison and go to the temple courts to teach. And peoples lives are saved and changed because the prisoners left.
What stood out to me was that their circumstances look so similar, yet the action they were meant to take so different. I couldn't help but think the answer must have something to do with listening.
I can tell you so many moments where I have looked around at my circumstances, season of life, and even logic and allowed those things to dictate my actions. But there's a freedom in contemplation, and for fighting to listen and let your actions be informed by prayer.
For me, it was a fight for time. Choosing to fight against the media-binge culture we live in. I realized I will always choose something mindless over something meaningful, so I need boundaries in the places that could distract me from hearing what's next.
It seems so silly, committing to silence for a time... but I am shocked by what I have learned. There's so much in the silence- the smells, the birds, the thoughts ... the whispers of names and the rush of memories. The flicker of a flame is a forgotten miracle until you stop.
The doors are open, the shackles broken, we need only to listen for what's next.
Happy stories, sad stories, dramatic, sorrowful, and joyous stories- every story is a love story... and here are some of mine.