“At my mother’s house I have a sparkly dog and her name is Bella,” she cheerfully declared. Among thousands of other curious wonders and funny statements I hear throughout my days, Brinley often tells me of the happenings at her “mother’s house.” Mind you, I am her mother, but she says I am not. I am, “Mom,” and she rejects any mention of the two (mom and mother) being one in the same. She also does not have a sparkly dog, or a dog at all, for that matter. However, I frequently hear about tricks Bella performs and odd concoctions of food Brinley eats at her mother’s house.
My job, as a mom of toddlers, fills me with laughter and excitement hourly, but also plagues me with mental exhaustion and a great need to occupy physical space of my own. By afternoon naptime I cannot wait to sit in a chair, without small, sharp elbows jabbing my ribcage, tiny fingers prodding my mouth, or tugging on my eyelashes. I admittedly rejoice for the quietness of naptime, like many moms I know do also. And like many of those moms, I often spend naptime watching a favorite TV show, checking in on social media, or catching up on some dirty dishes, while listening to my favorite music. My brain is my own for almost two hours, and I fill every second with as much unrelated to snacks, diapers, and answering “how” and “why” questions as possible.
A few days ago, after tucking both girls in for their naps, I had no chores to do. I sat down in the living room and flicked through several social media apps on my phone. I scrolled through posts of the day, but nothing much grabbed my attention. I had no prerecorded shows to watch and I found flipping through the ones currently playing uninteresting. I turned a music app on my phone, which resulted in skipping to the next song every five seconds. I had exhausted all of my usual options, so I sat deflated, feeling like my quiet time was rapidly wasting away.
After a few moments in complete silence I began to feel God impressing something upon my heart. It was an urging to clearly tune in to the silence surrounding me. I listened carefully with expectation. He shared no specific words with me, though, just an impression to absorb the silence all around. I sat soaking it in for the next half hour, still curious if He had something more to speak to me, but heard only an absence of sound. I went about my afternoon and evening as the girls awoke from naps. I plunged right back into snacks, diapers, pretend tea parties, and listening to an imaginative three year old do an unbelievable amount of talking.
A few days later, we attended an evening church service. During this service several pastors administered a prophetic presbytery over other pastors and their wives. As a married couple sat next to each other and listened to the words of the pastor speaking, he told the husband, God was about to take him into a new season–a new level in ministry. He likened this to a space shuttle blasting into space, and explained how although space shuttles travel at super high speeds to do what they are designed to do, they must slow down just before they transition from the earth’s atmosphere into space. I have little interest in space travel, but for some reason the example fascinated me. I knew this word resonated full of purpose within my spirit, but I did not know why. I tucked it away knowing God would draw it back out in due time.
Yesterday, my husband was watching a video about social media and loneliness. I listened from a far until hearing the last two sentences spoken on the video. The narrator’s words fascinated me in the same way the example of the space shuttle had.
“We slip into thinking that always being connected [via social media] is going to make us feel less alone, but we are at risk, because actually the opposite is true. If we are not able to be alone, we are only going to know how to be lonely.”
As a general feeling, I am not lonely, so why had these two sentences rattled my brain so dramatically. Why had I suddenly become so hyper and intrigued with this concept? I repeated the sentences in my head, trying to apply them to some aspect of my life. I flashed back to a few days prior, sitting in silence. The day my spirit would not allow me to tune into any kind of social media, TV, or otherwise, during the girls’ naptime. God began connecting the dots for me; from the afternoon of silence, to the space shuttle exiting the atmosphere, to the last sentences of a video about loneliness. I began to understand and see the impartation he was laying before me.
I have wondered for over a month why every time I sit down to write a blog I cannot complete a finished product. I write my way two paragraphs in, and then lose sight of the message I thought He wanted me to share. I have felt such lack in my ability to write something beneficial or encouraging for others to read. I have been displeased with the gift of writing God has given me. And there have even been moments I have doubted my ability to hear His voice. I know God speaks to me throughout every day, so if I truly heard His voice I would be able to convey it in a blog for all to read, right? I fed into these lies from the Devil. I bought into his distractions to prevent me from really seeing God’s purpose behind my writing drought, until the silence that day; until the space shuttle example; and the social media/loneliness video.
As the mom of toddlers, my brain cells play tug-o-war with each other. All day long hundreds of thoughts fight for the forefront of my brain to be remembered. I have an open conversation with God throughout my day, as well. I could not parent effectively if not for whispers from the Holy Spirit during difficult tantrums and challenging decisions. During naps, though—during my “quiet time”—I am the first to tune in to any other temporary connection than with The Source of Life, Himself. And while scrolling through social media sights, trying to write an encouraging blog, zoning out into a TV show, or listening to music whilst cleaning is wonderful at times; the connection I receive to the outside world from these sources is fleeting and temporary. I graze the surface of relationship, energy, and connection briefly, but the fulfillment is depleted almost instantly.
God is calling me into a new season. He is telling me to tune out quiet distractions, and tune in to sweet silence. He has held me back from writing for a time, to gain my attention to this word. Like the space shuttle decreasing speed before transitioning from the Earth’s atmosphere into outer space, so it can do as it is designed to do once in space, He desires for me to actually slow down in the slow moments of my day, before I can preparedly enter this new season. I am to listen for His voice in the silence, so I know my directions for the new realm He is guiding me into. Even though I do not yet know what or where that is specifically, I am thankful for all of the little words, examples, and moments He set in motion for me to hear His voice, and be obedient to His instruction.
God’s word says He is our shepherd, we shall not want (Psalm 23:1). That word, “want,” means to lack. I am not lacking in the gifts He has given me. I am not lacking in my ability to hear Him speak to me. In fact, I have experienced these moments I deemed lacking and thoughts of being overly excited (and a little weird) about a space shuttle or a loneliness video, completely because of His divine intention of imparting something great about His plan for my future. Not only do we not lack in any area when we are confident in His love for us, but He longs to give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).
During this season, I will not force writing, but write His promises as I hear them during stillness. I will wait patiently for the Lord to give me each new step in the direction for this exciting something. And in the moments of silent waiting I will worship. I am confident I will see His plan for my launch into this new season in His perfect timing. I am expectant to see which desire of my heart He is sweeping me into, and I will not protest slow moments as they arise, out of busy habit. I will not attempt to break the silence when it beckons, but soak up each moment absent of sound, because His love is fulfilling and His voice is sweeter than any time killing quiet time of my own design.
In our culture silence is “awkward” and uncomfortable. It is something we avoid. It is something of a rarity we control to evade the loneliness of our own minds. But what if we are genuinely missing out, and at risk of discovering the most fruitful relationship, alone with our Maker, because our fear of silence prohibits us from hearing His voice? My prayer is that the Father will withdraw our attention from anything undeserving, and greatly impress upon us His presence, healing love, and life giving words during moments of silence—that we would seek out silence, instead of breaking it.
by Jacqueline Fox