I am alone the majority of my time and yet I struggle to find silence.
Or perhaps it would be more accurate if I said I struggle to allow silence.
When I say silence, I am not referring to the complete absence of sound. My house is quiet most of the day, often eerily so. I am defining silence in this case as a refuge from the onslaught of words, images, input from the outside world. I am constantly connected, a slave to the next ping or vibration indicating someone, somewhere has something to say to me.
To be completely honest, I am addicted to my phone.
I don’t use the word addiction lightly. I grew up with an addicted parent. Our home was blown apart by the hold alcohol had on my father’s life. Addiction is a devil, a slave master, an insidious seducer. But if you define addiction as a “compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences,” then my relationship with my phone could be characterized by the word addiction.
In the interest of full disclosure, I get antsy and nervous when I am away from my phone or I haven’t checked it lately. I think about wanting to check it when I am in the midst of something else. I reach for it compulsively at stop lights, in the grocery store line, or when my dinner companion steps away from the table at a restaurant. I move it from room to room with me throughout my day, afraid to miss something important. Even as I write this post, my phone is within arm’s reach despite my commitment to this space, this project, these moments focused on finding the words to share with you.
The greatest consequence of my relationship with my phone is my inability to sit with silence, to rest with my thoughts, to daydream and imagine, to listen for the voice of God. My constant connection to my phone and all the lovely bells and whistles it provides gets in the way of my ability to tune in to my best self, the part of me connected to Spirit.My constant connection to my phone gets in the way of my ability to hear the voice of God. Click To Tweet
On my coaching journey, both my work with my own coach and the time I spend with my clients, I am learning to ask two good questions repeatedly:
- Who do I want to BE?
- What will I DO differently?
I want to BE a person who is connected to Spirit, who recognizes the quiet whispers of God, who is in tune with my creativity, imagination and inspiration. I want to be a person who is constantly learning new things, reading good books, and connecting with the people I love. I want to BE fully present in each moment, neither tethered to the past or worried about the future.In order to BE the person I want to be, I need to DO some things differently. Click To Tweet
Let me stop here and see if anyone else out there is connecting with this challenge? Does anyone else have a less than healthy relationship with their phone, tablet or computer? Is anyone else struggling to find a balance as we enjoy the miracles of 21st century communication?
Yesterday in church, my pastor Tom delivered a beautiful sermon about listening to God. He talked about the value of pursuing silence as a practice and highlighted the Christian traditions of centering prayer as a way to connect with God. He challenged us to spend 20 minutes in silence seeking God and see what happened. After church yesterday afternoon, I took a walk in the woods and put my phone on Do Not Disturb and turned off my music. I resisted the urge to chatter at God, deciding instead to just listen and enjoy the beautiful day. It was alternately difficult and wonderful, but God was gracious with me while I settled down. On the way home, I talked to God about how I might extend this pursuit of silence into the rest of my week.
Here is the invitation I received and that I extend to you, if you would like to join me. Every day BEFORE I check email, social media or turn on the tv, I will do the following:
- Read scripture (one verse or short selection)
- Set my timer and spend 20 minutes of silence listening to God*
- Write in my journal what I heard God say in the silence
*I could write another 700 words with tips for how to spend this time of silence. Centering prayer can be awkward and difficult, particularly for those of us who have spent a lifetime using prayer formulas and outlines for how we talk to or at God. The most important thing to remember is to be gentle with ourselves when we get distracted: WHEN, not IF, because we will all get distracted. I use deep breaths and phrases from scripture like these to bring my bouncy brain back into focus:
- Be Still and Know that I am God
- Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus
- Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening
Who’s in? Let me know if you want to pursue silence with me this week and see what we learn together. I suspect the way we begin our day will impact the rest of the day.