you can listen to this blog post read by me, here.
i am really good at loud. ask my kids, I feel alive with all our windows down, music blasting, and loud singing. I remember one time my younger siblings catching me “singing” Since you’ve been gone by Kelly Clarkson at the top of my lungs in the kitchen. (And maybe on top of the kitchen table…) I love to have something to do, a reason to get up and go. i’m always up for a last minute road trip, party, bonfire, deadline, activity, etc etc etc etc.
I make lists and plans and goals. I write them down. I carry them around with me from room to room. From laundry to email to the trampoline to the store. From deadline to collaboration and back again.
If there happens to be a quiet moment (that I haven’t packed with noise) I am quick to turn up the volume. No, crank the volume.
i don’t know. My brain just wants to go. I want to have people, and things, and events. Exercise regimens, new recipes, books, friends, to-do’s and more. All of it. All the things.
i am learning that it is not okay to go at that speed. That at some point, you will burn out. Fizzle out. And end up empty. hollow. And afraid.
The quiet scares me.
The quiet seems loud. Why?
Because even in the “quiet” my mind never gets that memo. My heart fights silence. I literally feel like I’m drowning in it, and noise is my life preserver. loud and distracted are my drugs.
when I looked in the mirror a few months ago I saw a reflection of who I was and the girl in the mirror’s eyes didn’t seem like my own. I could see how much emotional and spiritual and even physical exhaustion I felt from trying so hard to avoid the silence. That kind of avoidance takes effort, in huge amounts.
i walked out of my bathroom to my husband still sleeping in the early winter morning light coming through our windows. It was quiet in the house. And I was just barley in between the stillness of early morning and the blaring music of my headphones and the pounding of my feet on the treadmill. I stood there….
Stuck in that moment. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed by the quiet, my heart racing with the loudness of it.
“Why am I doing this?” the voices in my head screamed. What are you running from?! How long can you physically out run yourself? how long do you think you can live from high to high? What is this doing to your children? To your marriage? Your friendships? This isn’t you. This isn’t you...
The fear of not getting on my workout clothes and do my workout routine was nauseating, but against what my stomach was telling me to do, I crawled back into bed and formed myself into a tight ball.
The silence was crushing me. But something inside me told me to feel it. To just be there. to ignore the intense craving to turn up the volume… but to let the quiet wrap it’s arms around me. To listen to the quiet.
After awhile…. The loud voices got less aggressive. My mind ran out of things to panic about. My heart started to beat slower. once I could form a coherent thought in the silence, I started praying. But not the kind of praying that starts with “dear…” and ends in “amen.” It was the kind of praying that makes no sense, and hot tears leak out of your eyes without permission. The kind of praying that feels vulnerable and icky but sweet and rich all the same. pleading, asking, and spilling my guts in silent prayer that morning, I just opened up the gate and let it all out. My fears. My guilt, worry, and shame. All of it. My dreams, and “why”s. I poured it out until there was nothing left.
And then I experienced for the first time in a long time what I think people actually mean when they say “be still” or what silence really is. It was okay. There was peace there. There were still voices, but they were calm, and they were mine. My true self. My authentic self. I felt resolve to be more present, to dig in and really show up in life. To show up with the people that mattered— the ones on the inside. the ones in that quiet house with me. I felt hope. Hope for myself, my soul. Hope for things to come, for a future I couldn’t picture or imagine. One where I wasn’t tortured by the fear of quiet. One where I didn’t plan out ways to avoid and distract.
As i listened to the quiet around me, I heard love. i heard love, loud and clear.
Today I sat in my car waiting for my oldest to finish up her piano lesson. I watched the rain drops on the car windshield and all of a sudden I realized I was sitting in silence. I had the impulse to fill it up, quick. “Hurry, turn on the radio!” I felt my fingers wanting to reach for the dial. But I looked out the window to my left, and I saw these little perfect rain drops… and as I consciously let the silence set in, I felt my muscles relax. I didn’t even know how much I needed the quiet until I was accidentally sitting in it.
I’m still learning. Old habits are hard to break. Forcing the loud to chase out quiet 24/7 is dangerous ground for me. It’s when I slowly tip toe towards darkness without even realizing it. It’s when I let the voices in my head boss me around. Its where I build my best and strongest walls, blocking out the people I need most. it’s where I stop feeling love, no, its where I stop believing I’m even worthy of love.
i’m trying to reteach my heart and mind to listen to the quiet. To allow myself to be soft enough to stop, and let it settle in around me. And if that’s not convenient (because lets be honest, is it ever?!) to find it. Intentionally create it. To put myself, physically, spiritually, and mentally in silence once and awhile and… be still.
I think that god will use the quiet to hug us. Tell us everything is going to be okay. To whisper to our souls that we are loved and worthy and doing better than we think we are. I think god will use the silence to focus us, our intentions, and to bring us closer to Him.
And I just thought, if I need that, maybe you do too.