How noisy is your life?
Do you even hear the noise in your life anymore?
I’m referring to all of the noise: automobiles driving up and down your street, the hum of the fridge, chirping birds, your kids, the television, the sound of your computer running, the unique creaks and groans that hour home makes, the weird sound your intestines just make (What on earth was that? Is there an alien living in your colon?)
I’ll bet you year none of that noise anymore (except for the intestine noises, which was LOUD!). It’s all just part of the ambient silence, right? Are you ever truly in silence?
Not me. I live in a neighborhood that seems to always have some sound: cars, rude neighbors, stay cats, birds, firetrucks as they cut through my neighborhood.
Last September there was all the regular ambient noise in my life, but I also felt like I was going deaf from the roar of life. If I had been a baby, I would have been crying from overstimulation, but an adult calls it stress or anxiety. There was loud noise all around me and I couldn’t get a moment in silence to refocus myself. So I decided to go on a personal retreat. I found a secluded cabin not far from my house and spent three nights there. There was no t.v, no internet, no street lights, no rude neighbors, no car alarms in the middle of the night, no bosses screaming at me in all caps with 5 exclamation points on every single email, nobody wanting anything from me for three days. I slept. I ate. I read. I sat on the front porch in swing and listened to the birds. I counted stars at night.
On my last night in the cabin, I sent a text to a friend and told him that I was so relaxed and I was happy for the first time in a long time. He texted me back, “that is peace.” It had been so long since I had felt peace that I had forgotten what it was.
At the end of my three days I went home and knew what would happen. The peace would leak. Months and months of discontent can’t be fixed in just three days of solitude. Inevitably it happened. Stress crept back in. Screaming emails in all caps with 5 exclamation points rushed back in. Commitments had to be kept. Pretty soon everything was back to where it started. Nothing truly changed in my three days in solitude.
I was sitting on my couch a little bit ago and was reading the journal entries from those few days in the cabin and the few days after I came home. I had such a false sense of peace and security. Everything for the span of about a week was all glitter and rainbows and cupcakes and unicorns. Everything was perfect. I was Princess Poppy and nothing was going to get me down.
“I am so thankful that I was spiritually open to the day. It feels good to come home to God.” I wrote that on September 23rd. When I reread the journal entry I was able to see the day in my mind all over again. I remember the day well, and it was a very good day. It was certainly a blessing. What jumped out at me though is that in the eight months since writing, “it feels good to come home to God,”
One thing my pastor reminds the church of often is that if God ever feels distant in your life then it isn’t because He’s moved away from you. God hasn’t gone anywhere. If God hasn’t moved then who has?
There is a mission trip coming up in July at church. We are going to be gone for nine days and we are going to Trinidad. There are several of us going, and each morning we will meet together before the day gets going. We will pray together and a different person in the group will lead a devotional each day. Confession time! That one little aspect of the trip scares me more than anything. I have wandered so far away from God lately that I feel like I’m lost again. Not to mention, I am terrible about sticking to a devotional. I could make lots of excuses, but the truth is that I just never think about it. I have a hard time sticking with them because they are so short. If I’m going to sit down to read something then I want to have time to sit and read and sink my teeth in and learn something and take notes and truly devote myself and my time to the endeavor. Daily devotionals just seem like a passing thought, something you do while sitting at a red light. They are brief and get my brain piqued only to quickly come to an end after just a few paragraphs. I am a woman of words. I need explanations and definitions. I needs dates and times. Maybe I’m just looking for excuses to get out of that responsibility. Making excuses for what I don’t want to do is simply the truth of my defiance.
I thought, when I first started typing this, that I genuinely had something to day. This has dissolved into nothing more than the ramblings of the malcontent.
Until next time . . .