Words and noise fill our days. Silence can be a scarce commodity, especially during the season of motherhood. Yet, silence can often be the place we find our voice and the most important words we have to share.
All the beautiful noise
The phone rings. A dear friend unpacks details of the trial she is enduring. I marvel at the way the Lord is moving despite difficulties. We exchange encouraging words and pray together. My consulting job calls with needs and deadlines. A friend pops to talk over Mexican food for lunch. Even my inbox and social media clamor with “noise.”
All around me the din of boyhood lived out loud fills the day. My youngest sings through life. Boys wildly bounce through the living room on hippity-hops. They laugh, bang, talk, shout, play music. The backyard teems with friendly war cries and Nerf swords drawn. I live surrounded by the cacophony of abundant goodness. It is full and it is noisy. I know you know.
It is not here, in this hum of life that I find my voice. On the best of days, I pull away from the clamor and bustle, to take some moments with God alone. I don’t fill that void with my agenda, stack of devotional books, planned study of His Word or my list of many requests. Each of those elements has its place in my relationship with Him, but in this quiet, I merely pour out and I sit open to receive. I call out to Him and I wait in silence.
He promises: “My sheep hear my voice.” His voice. He speaks — the still, small voice. How are we to hear the voice if we do not come away from the din of life? We must slow and make the space. In the riskiness of quiet, we find our true voice.
Finding silence while motherhood is in full session
When my boys were infants, I was relegated to functioning with one arm for most tasks. I rarely sat unless I was nursing. Night and day bled together. As moms of infants, we don’t find the still places as easily. Even the thought of solitude evades us. Time alone is more of a wish than a reality during the first year of our child’s life.
In those days I propped His Word on the recipe book stand in the kitchen and I would cruise by it in the midst of the day, pausing to glean a verse — a word, a drop of water for a weary and parched soul. Then, I would return to my mothering with a bit of refreshment.
The toddler years rush in after infancy. To leave my child unattended during this period of family life meant sure disaster. I would invariably return to unparalleled demolition. Entire kitchen cabinets were dismantled; pantry contents spilled across the kitchen floor. During other attempts, I came out of a brief quiet time only to find the bathroom draped in several rolls of unfurled toilet paper with my smiling toddler sitting wearing my lipstick as face paint. I had to get creative – and I needed backup!
I hired a sitter once a week and traded time with friends. My husband regularly took over so I could focus on refreshing my soul. Naptime seems like the ideal time for mommy quiet, but honestly, sometimes I couldn’t settle my restless heart. I needed to straighten the day’s messes or take the ever-elusive shower. Since I was working, sometimes naptime meant catching up on my job. During this season, as hard as it was, I did what it took to call in the reserves so I could consistently carve out quiet time with God while my children were occupied.
As the boys have aged, they have learned to do things on their own for increasingly longer periods of time. I have the luxury of retreating to a chair in my room, settling in and stilling my rambling brain. I can refresh myself and redirect my thoughts by reading His Word or a devotion. Following a time of reading, I must be still. I fast from words as I open for His presence.
The words grown in silence
I entered adulthood with hurts and brokenness. At times I spoke out of turn, speaking from the voice of anxiety, pride or a hidden pain-filled void in my heart. I had much healing to experience so that my voice could be awakened – the voice that sounds like my Father, the voice rooted and grounded in His love.
My true voice has come from the practice of silence. Learning to still with God, I allowed myself to be unraveled as I sat in discomfort. Silence has not been the easy road. Solitude is not always the comfortable place.
As I have said, “no” and cut back from busyness, I have purposed to create times of quiet where I am seen and vulnerable. The broken places are open to God and He comes. Silence can ultimately bring a balm of peace. In the space I reserve for God, I hear Him and I receive what He then echoes into the lives of others.
The ministry of quiet presence
God has given me the voice and He has loved this heart enough to give me the words and opportunities to speak. Learning to hold my tongue has come from Him as well.
At times God calls words out to answer a hurting friend. I’m as much a witness as she is to the healing He brings during our conversation. Just as often a friend might come bearing a weight too large — she needs an ear more than words. I hold my tongue and let my soul and presence be the words she needs. When I speak at the end of our time together it is not the speaking that ministers as much as the heart He has cultivated within me. I can extend the gift of silent presence because I now trust quiet places and the way God uses those for great growth and healing.
My ministry of words comes from a heart filled and grounded. It has come from the years of silence between me and God – all the times I grasped and carved out to be alone with Him.
Do you long for more intimacy with God? I will be hosting an “Entering into His Rest” series for Lent. If you are interested in being a part of that series, subscribe to Hearts Homeward so I can send you the link. The series will not be something I do here on the blog. I will send you emails and resources separately so you can use them at your own pace.
This month when you subscribe to Hearts Homeward, it is my joy to bless you with “Making Room for What Matters Most.” You can print out this resource to help you as you manage your time and choices to make space for your priorities and values.