Silence gives me anxiety.
I find silence disconcerting. If silence lingers I think of a way to fill it. If silence lingers I wonder if I have done something wrong. If silence is accompanied by scowls, I grow insecure.
You see, if I can keep the conversation rolling long enough and make you laugh hard enough, then maybe, just maybe, you won’t see me and disapprove.
Somewhere along the way, I decided it was my job to make everyone around me happy by being who they wanted me to be or who I thought they wanted me to be. The problem with that? When things grow silent my first impulse is to take the blame for some nameless unknown offense. I offer myself up as a scapegoat because there must be something inherently wrong with me, right?
But when God is silent?
Until I think about hiding places.
A really good hiding place is pretty quiet. It’s still. It’s silent. It’s a good kind of silent. The kind of silence that breathes.
Unless you’re scared. Then it’s not. But if it’s safe? Then it’s the best kind of quiet.
Psalm 27:5 ‘For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.’
God is my safe place. He is my hiding place. It’s okay to hide from trouble and the best kind of hiding is in the safest of places and the safest of places are the quietest of places. What if God is silent not because he is angry, but because he is keeping me safe?
Then the silence becomes something good and beautiful. It becomes something to be thankful for.
What if silence became an opportunity to rest in the One who holds me close to his heart and hides me within himself?
When God is silent I have an opportunity to learn to wait. I learn to be still. I trust that he is working in my circumstance and in me.
What if in the silence we learn to wait on him? What if in the silence we learn to be still? What if in the silence we learn to let him work and stop striving for solutions? What if we viewed God’s silence as an opportunity to trust him more?
I am learning to be okay with sitting quietly with someone. I am learning to enjoy another’s presence without the need for words. (this is hard!) I am also learning to enjoy the sweet comradery of God’s presence without the need for words. And the beautiful thing? If I am silent I find that God is not really silent, he is just waiting for me to hush up so he can speak. It’s in those still, silent places that I can hear his whispers reaching my frantic heart and I hear him clearly.
Silence doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t have to mean disapproval. Sometimes silence a really, really good thing to embrace. Silence reminds me to be still.
Do I still freak out when God is silent? A little. But now I do a few things:
- I don’t automatically assume that I am inherently wrong.
- I open myself up to the Holy Spirit and his work.
- I wait patiently and trust his heart.
What happens the next time God is silent? I am going to be still, hush up, and listen. I just might hear his whisper.