The Power of Silence

The Power of Silence

A friend said to me one day that she couldn’t image her commute to work without music, that talk radio show she loves so much or something to fill the quiet. She went on to say that she knew someone who actually rode with nothing on. Can you imagine that? !

Yes, actually I can. I find it interesting that we are a culture that attempts to fill every white space, almost every moment of every day. The Daily News reports that  more than 80% of the world confesses that they can’t do without their mobile devices.

This leaves us with little to no precious time to clear our heads, our thoughts, evaluate what we’ve learned without forces sucking    us in to respond to some type of stimuli– begging us, beseeching us to buy or sell or react emotionally to some news, gossip or current event. Overloaded with information, we are often no better for it. We subconsciously take in stuff which produces no benefit in exchange for something, anything to fill our heads. It’s kind of like eating when you are clearly not hungry.

We seldom give ourselves time to evaluate, ponder or consider whether information is useful before we are back at it taking in more—stuff. And even when we are conversing with others in real time, we often do more talking than listening always ready to pour out from our head what we know. It just seems the natural thing to do considering we know so much. Sigh.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting with a curmudgeon old lady who rarely smiles and is never up for small talk. She is not the one to chat about the weather –mentioning how unseasonably warm it is for the month of May. Her talk is purposeful and to the point. When she is done, she stops talking.

There was an incident which occurred with my son and her niece and she came to talk to me about it out of concern for her niece. My first reaction was one of defense. I wanted immediately to remind her that I have successfully raised three children and I’ve got this thank you. I wanted to tell her all I knew on child rearing. Did I mention I have three children? But something inside willed me to hush. Be silent. Listen. And so I did. I took in everything, immediately mentally applying it where it was necessary. No I didn’t listen as we often do; we barely hear what the person is saying because we are awaiting our turn to share, to tell what we know, add meaning and depth when often none is needed. No, I emptied myself of preconceived opinions and drank in her words.

 

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What I noticed is that truly listening is well…humbling. It is like sitting at the feet of a sage for the beauty of their knowledge. Assured that they have a perspective, you haven’t considered or experience in an area where you lack.

I saw that day behind that droopy, leathery face and glassy eyes a women who’d truly lived. Her life hadn’t been particularly exciting but she’d lived. It was the same kind of living I was doing. But the difference was she’d already been there. She wasn’t condescending or mean. She was calm, with a slow, measured rhythm to her words. She wouldn’t allow me to rush her But took her time to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

As writers silence is powerful because it allows us to process knowledge in a way that makes it useful, instead of busy chatter clogging our minds. We began to know how an experience feels, what it tastes like, what it smells like and the way it leaves you in the aftermath. It allows us to compartmentalize what we know and apply it when and where it’s needed and discard what is not needed or at least place it aside until the next time.

Silence is powerful because it shows control and discipline on our part. It forces us to think about what we are thinking about. It helps us to hear our inner voice. It is that voice—the spirit of a man, which guides us into truth, helps us to make sound decisions, not just based on how we feel, but what our spirit is revealing to us. It is the God part of us, because it is he who is feeding our spirit-man; yes. It is spirit to spirit.

The next time your emotions are screaming, or you are tempted to make a decision bred from some emotional high or low or you’re incited to write some crazy, impulsive comment on Twitter or another form of social media, based on what some political blowhard has feed you, I ask you to be still. Be silent. Consider. Think about it. Listen. Simply listen.

When You Share Your Faith

When You Share Your Faith

When we talk about sharing our faith many of us get visions of Bible-waving believers or John the Baptist messengers preaching that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. But at the end of the day no one cares how many Bible verses you can quote or how many inspirational phrases you tweet. And on the other hand many of us don’t even bother talking about God at all at the fear of being off putting or too much.

Be a Doer

But the sharing of your faith is most effective in the demonstration of your faith. At its core, at its foundation it is simply about sharing the love of God. And that always takes action in which we connect with someone else.

His love covers the gamut of good deeds and heart felt dealings. It can be as simple as texting a co-worker to say “you are in my prayers”. It could be listening attentively as stranger shares personal information with you—people are crying out to be heard. It is offering hope instead of exchanging instances about how hard things are, how this country is doomed, or comparing illnesses and family drama. It is demonstrating the peace of God and the love of a Father.

You see when we speak in Christianese or try to convince people that we are good church going folk we are at that moment like the long line of believers who go through the symbolic motions of being typically religious. It is boring and ineffective. It is mediocrity in its purest.

When we demonstrate our faith it is a reminder to the cynical, non-believer, the hurting, the doubtful that there is yet hope for mankind because there is a God of love that is real and he is long-suffering. Good things do happen. God loves us and yes he answers prayers.

Every time we behave as the world does we reaffirm what many already believes—mankind is eternally lost and the God above isn’t doing much about it. When you demonstrate your faith you plant that seed of goodness. Another will come along and water with a word of God. Perhaps another will cultivate with an invitation to church or some event. But it starts with your seed. Your seed opens up the heart of someone who may have stopped believing that there is a good God.

Love without action

Demonstration of our faith can be a moment or singular action but it is also a lifestyle. As we walk in love, our demonstration becomes as natural and as much a part of us as our accent or eye color. It becomes woven into our DNA because it is who we are.

In one passage of scripture Jesus said:

“Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works.” (John 14:11, MSG)

Others may not believe what you say, but they believe what you do. And that is demonstrated in and through us every moment of every day.

 

Today is that day: be inspired

Today is that day: be inspired

Today determine to live on purpose live_I

God has a plan for you, are you walking it out?

Let’s face it, we like being in control. We love to create fantastic plans and revel in the thrill of them being played out. Then we become frustrated when things go awry and it seems as if the entire universe is against us. But let’s be honest–how many of us seek God first for direction? How many consult with him regularly and the move accordingly?

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Provb. 16:9, ESUVK)

Sometimes as we are caught in the moment we move quickly, excitedly because after all, we are endeavoring in a good thing. But every good thing isn’t expedient or our job to accomplish.

God is one of purpose. He is not a God that moves on a whim; he is not swayed by our emotions or frustrations or desperation. He has a plan. It is for our good. His plan has perfect timing; it has a rhythm and season. It does not fail even when we do.

 

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We Do Not Live to Please Ourselves

We are not designed or created to pursue goals to live blissful lives according to our own desire or world view. We are made to be used by Him. We are a part of a whole– a single, intricate thread designed by God with precision and purpose and woven into the fabric of reconciliation. He has called us unto Himself—and in turn he uses some to influence and bring others to Him as well. When we focus solely on ourselves we lose sight of the greater good. We are only a small fraction in the grand plan. And we must trust his plan. Trust his way.

 

If You’re Lost don’t be afraid to ask for Directions

Sometimes our frustration grows out of our failure to hear, listen and submit to His way. He is always speaking, but are we always listening?

If it seems you’re circling the same path, stuck in the same situation, frustrated by the obstacles which tripped you up last year, stop and ask for direction. It is not God’s desire that we waste time or repeat for the sake of repetition. Ask Him for next steps. Seek to know if you’ve gotten off task. Talk to Him and he will certainly talk to you.

Nothing is Lost: Remembering those We’ve Lost

Nothing is Lost: Remembering those We’ve Lost

My mother died in 2005 and there are moments in my life that I desperately wish that she were here. I’ll hear something funny that only she would get or receive news about someone we knew back in the day.

When she first passed I would get this overwhelming gut-wrenching feeling in my stomach as though I were drowning. I would grab hold of the preverbal rope to remind myself that I’m OK. It’s OK. Everything is OK.

Over the years, the grief has passed and has been replaced with nostalgia, beautiful, faint and vivid memories of growing up—living, laughing, fighting with this woman who was both my best friend and worst enemy. Boy could we bump heads.

And then there was something else. I would find myself doing things the way she did them or reciting one of her quirky sayings or looking at my daughter with one of those glances she would give me. And it was then I realized all those years she held me, scolded me, taught, corrected or laughed with me—she was imparting, not just head knowledge but pouring out from her soul. She was giving me the best of herself, releasing all she had.

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Momma was teaching by showing. Every time we’d visit someone who’d just lost her husband or sister or brother or visited the elderly she was imparting the gift of compassion. Those nights my breathing was belabored because of asthma and she prayed and rubbed my aching back and got virtually no sleep she was teaching me love. Every Sunday, Tuesday, Friday when we went to church she was teaching commitment and how to honor God. With every prayer, every word uttered the essence of who she is was being birthed in me. I was breathing in her legacy, remembering, learning, absorbing receiving it in a way no book or movie or anyone else could ever teach it.

Every day I awake I feel her, see her in my mind’s eye and carry what she has endowed and I share with others. And although she is gone she can never truly be gone, because the best of her lives in me. Nothing is ever lost, it is simply reborn.