Finding the Voice in the Quiet

Every so often, I get to sit down with a good friend (who also happens to be our worship leader…) to just chat, catch up on life, and of course, down a little liquid happy juice.

And by “liquid happy juice,” I of course mean coffee. Or tea. Or iced tea, for that matter.

I especially appreciate the kinds of questions he asks – the kind that go on for days, and actually make you think about things instead of just spouting off a carefully polished and pretty answer. The kinds of questions that open up paths to deep conversation and authentic sharing.

Good stuff, Maynard.

Seems like every time we do this – get some time to just talk and consider, I always come away with something specific that was a “lightbulb moment” – something to think through, to look carefully at, and to work on. A blessing from my Father – God is good, and He loves His kids. Always.

We were talking about the daily rhythm of life, how I have to structure it around the challenges my mind gives me and the tools I use to maintain balance. One of them is going to neutral or “centering” –  when I’ve had a bit of an upswing in my emotions, become aware of it, and need to come back to center without crashing down to depression, usually by “getting quiet” – I sit quietly, breathe deeply, and allow the mania to pass gently, instead of dropping me down the elevator shaft.

And he asked,  “What happens in that silence? Where do you go? What do you hear in the quiet?”

Ok – he put it much more eloquently, both wrapping it in thoughtful questions and gentle encouragement to consider. But here’s what stuck as my head kicked into ponder mode…

How do I think God factors into that stillness? Do I take that time to acknowledge Him, to think about Him, to quietly frame a sentence prayer or two, to open myself to the Spirit and see God as the one who catches me in the long fall and keeps me from crashing?

Like I said, he put it much better, wrapped it in inquiry and insight, and served it up, Holy Ghost style. No garnish needed – I always hate it when they put the wilted lettuce or sad parsley on the side anyway. But those are the thoughts that stuck with me.

After all…

You throw a whole pot of pasta at the wall, and only some of it sticks, after all. So from his full pot of angel hair pasta, that’s the stuff that stuck in my noggin.

Al dente.

With a lovely dressing of just a bit of EVOO and some roasted garlic. But no Parmesan cheese – it’s a little bitter to my muted taster and my missing sense of smell. Mozzarella, on the other hand, is delicious and always heaped on stuff wherever I can get away with it.

Can you tell I’m writing this shortly before lunch? I thought you might have noticed that, even without the roaring sound of my stomach growling. 

** Random thought: Since over half of my stomach ain’t in da house anymore, how is it possible that the little tube that’s left actually growls a LOT louder than it did when the whole thing was operating? Weird. Slightly annoying. But kind of cool too. In a weird, slightly annoying way. ** 

So, back to something not involving pasta, cheese, lunch, or growling tummies…

I got nothing.

Just kidding. Ha ha hee hee ho ho *snort* Woo.

That picture I just wrote – seeing God as the one who catches me as I fall into the elevator shaft, gently bringing me safely back to center, keeping me from crashing at the bottom – that’s really hitting me. Not just “getting quiet” to try and find balance again, but acknowledging that God meets me in the quiet and carries me back to balance.

I guess I never thought about what fills the silence.

I mean, silence really never is, right? We’re never anyplace where it’s truly “silent.” Quiet? Yes. Less than noisy? Hopefully.

Annoyed by the ka-THUMP of the cotton’ pickin’ bonehead and his car stereo with the nuclear powered subwoofer that I can hear clearly in my living room, even though his big ol’ SUV is a block away and still capable of giving me a whopper of a headache while only turned up to 2.3?

Oh good gravy bones, yes. With cheese on top. But not Parmesan.

I re-think my views on gun control when he parks that thing right in front of my house… Forget assault rifles – I want bazookas, rocket launchers, grenades, and torpedoes. NOW.

Or at least a catapult to launch some Beka fodder from the backyard. Talk about acid rain…

So, silence? Not usually.

Even if I were placed in an acoustically silent space, it still wouldn’t be silent. I’m one of the many people that deal with tinnitus – a constant ringing in my ears. It’s there all the time, hopefully receding into the background noise, as I try to do the one thing that’s most difficult to do – ignore it.

It never stops.

The key is to never be someplace “silent” – in extreme quiet, the ringing becomes a roar, and it’s all I can hear. So there’s constantly something going on in our home – music, a fan for white noise, Beka muttering, belching, or passing a whuffy for our entertainment and edification, etc. –  to keep the ringing pushed into the background.

And yes, that does raise the possibility that the ringing is not all I try to ignore and push to the background. I don’t think I deliberately try and ignore God’s voice in a quiet whisper, but when the habit of pushing sounds to the background is so deeply entrenched, maybe I push away too much.

A thought for consideration… but not right now.

When I “get quiet,” it’s never about seeking silence. Maybe it’s closer to say I’m seeking “stillness…” a calm harbor to protect my sanity from wind and waves.

So, in those times, I need to see my Rock and Fortress in the calm. A small shift in perception, but what a difference it would make. Instead of running from chaos, I’m running toward peace. Instead of fleeing mania, I’m pursuing calm. Instead of seeking escape from something that I can’t always control, I mindfully place myself in His shelter and care.

He was and is always there. He always will catch me, comfort me, and protect me from the long drop into darkness. It’s simply learning to see what is always true…

God is my refuge and strength.

“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
that shadows a dry, thirsty land.
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
and covers me there with His hand.”
– Fanny Crosby

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