The raindrop tickles my cheek as it rolls down my upturned face.
Soon, another startles me with its sudden presence on my face and makes me blink unexpectedly. It’s just sprinkling right now, but the dark clouds overhead hint of a coming downpour. I should probably go inside.
I sit up from my reclined position in the hammock that’s strung between two evergreens and admire the beauty I’m surrounded with. A dark mountain looms directly in front of me, and, in fact, all around me, reminding me of what a powerful and altogether mighty God I serve.
What Noise Makes Me Miss
But something is bothering me, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. The horses to my left have wandered off to find a greener place to nibble. A fly circles my head, looking for a place to land. The house is 100 yards to my right, a tall structure in the middle of this Montanan sanctuary.
Everything seems to be in its proper place.
As I carefully step out of the hammock, I suddenly realize what’s wrong.
It’s the noise.
The landlady has her window open and TV turned up so that the sound carries up the hill and straight to my ears. The sprinkler watering the lawn makes a steady click, click, click, click as it rotates in a never ending circle, shooting water as far as it can possibly reach. A car rumbles down the gravel road in the distance.
And it’s then that I realize that rarely is there a moment in my life that doesn’t have manufactured sound vying for my attention.
When I’m not listening to the hum of a motor from my fridge or car, there are timers reminding me of important things that I have to do, places that I need to be. There are alert tones that ring loud and clear, announcing to me that I have a new text or Facebook message. There are phone calls to be answered. Sink water running. Dishwashers whirring. Keyboard tap-tap-taps. Lights humming.
And not to mention music.
It’s everywhere! In stores, in movies, in cars. Even on days like today when I’m sitting in a hammock with beauty surrounding me, I’m tempted to pull out my headphones and iPod and get some tunes going. There is almost never a moment where sitting and enjoying the sounds of nature–just nature–is possible.
The moments of quiet solitude with just me, my thoughts, and God are few and far between.
But to be honest, I miss silence. A lot.
I miss the times before I had a phone, before Facebook was popular. I miss being 11 and going out into the woods behind my house up to the tree swing. I miss swinging out over the outcrop of rocks, pretending to fly while the only sounds around me were the birds cheering me on in my superhero duties and the armadillos and squirrels scampering through the brush.
I miss climbing my tree and balancing there on my favorite branch, my backpack with snacks and water hanging above me, as I become immersed in a different book than the one I started and finished yesterday. I travel to England, Mexico, France, Russia, and Israel while the wind stirs the branch I sit on, and it becomes a bucking horse, a ship caught in a storm in the middle of the ocean, a bicycle traveling down a bumpy road. The critters keep me company in the tree, acting unbeknownst to them as dragons, snakes, scorpions.
The only sound is that of pages turning.
I miss being in India. I miss those few nights that I got to sit at the top of an unfinished, five-story building in the middle of nowhere, watching the sun set in a majestic display of color. My feet dangled off the edge and there was no sound. It was just me and my thoughts. And I was perfectly content with that.
Why We Need Silence
I miss the silence because it helped me in many ways I could not at the time comprehend.
The silence allowed me to think through the problems of my day, and to do some processing about ways to respond to things differently.
The silence allowed me the chance to look inside and see if there was something I didn’t like about myself that I could change to become a better me.
The silence allowed me to commune with and actually listen to a God who is much higher than I am.
The silence kept my attentions focused so that, even when I left the silence, I had learned how to think until I was done thinking.
The silence allowed me to just be. It didn’t require anything of me. It didn’t require that I put on airs to impress.
The silence taught me to be myself in a world that told me to be anything but.
You know, maybe that’s why the world has so many depressed people. So many people who have been diagnosed with ADD. So many people who don’t know who they are. Kids are bombarded with constant manufactured entertainment every minute of every day.
They have video games that make them mindless robots. They have TV shows that are perhaps funny but also rude and more often than not vulgar.
They have music that they “don’t listen to the lyrics” of that is telling them to be fake. To act like they’re okay when they’re not. To strive for popularity. To fill their lives with everything they can get their hands on in an effort to live a happy life.
But that noise … it’s filled with lies.
Those kids have never had the chance to just sit undisturbed and live their life. They don’t know how to focus in school because school isn’t 6 seconds long. They don’t know how to be happy because they think their happiness depends on what they have or don’t have and the circumstances they are in at that moment.
They don’t know how to be themselves. They don’t know how to listen to someone else.
And even more, they no longer know how to be silent.
There are moments when gleeful singing, a deep chuckle, chatting, and even screaming in exhilaration are appropriate. However, there are also moments when silence is appropriate. And kids are now being raised to not even understand what silence means.
Because of that, they also don’t have all of the positive things that come with silence. And that is one of the most saddening things I’ve seen in my generation and the one that follows me.
You see, we don’t need medication to make us focus or be happy. We don’t need to listen to everything that other people think we need to be. What we need is good sleep, healthy food, and a big dose of silence in our day-to-day lives. Even if that means turning off our cell phones for a couple hours.
Silence is golden.
Take a few moments to embrace silence and just listen.
Who knows? Maybe in that silence you’ll hear what you’ve been dying to hear all along … from a still, small voice that couldn’t be heard over all the noise.
Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!
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This is such a great article, Amanda! Thanks for sharing it! It’s so true, we rarely get even moments of complete silence now.
Thanks for posting! This article reminds me of Psalm 46:10. It’s pretty ironic to me that today the sky is gloomy today, like it is about to rain…
By the way, can you put “links” to Bible verses in comments? I am new here, so I don’t really know.
Hey Aaron! Welcome to The Reb, first of all. And yes, you can put links in your comments. I just tried it out in a comment above (and then deleted it because it was just a random Scripture).
You would have to insert just a regular link into your comment with a link to a site with the Scripture passage on it, like Bible Gateway or the ESV Online Bible. To insert a link in a comment, you have to insert a code. This is the code you would use: WORDS YOU WANT TO LINK
I hope that wasn’t too confusing! I’m not exactly an expert at these things. 😉
Ok thanks! I’ll figure it out! 🙂
Wow. Thank you for putting feelings I’ve had for so long yet couldn’t express into words. This was beautiful.
I loved this. I never realized just how noise filled my life is. Thanks for reminding me that silence is a golden thing. This has really encouraged me today! 🙂
Wow, my life is terribly noisy! Thank you for writing this Amanda!
. . .
Great article! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and actually just blogged about it this morning on my personal blog. I can’t do anything without music; I have music playing 24/7. But I think that’s a big reason why my prayer life is suffering. Before, I might have prayed while I was doing laundry or working out. Now, I’m focusing on my music–singing along with it, and looking to see what song is next on the playlist. This morning, for the first time in a really long time, I went outside early and just sat. The only sounds, besides the occasional car, were the birds. I felt closer to God than I have in a long time. So this post was very timely and reinforces all that (:
Also, I just read your bio–I’d love to know more about your job! Sounds amazing!
Hi, Hailey! Thanks for taking the time to read this! Your time this morning sounds awesome. And how true is it that not having distractions makes us more apt to feel closer to God! What would you like to know about my job? I’d love to tell you about it and answer any questions you might have! 🙂
I loved your post thanks for taking the time to write it! I read your bio too! Your job does sound really cool! I’d like to know what house mom means? Does that mean you’re an actual mom? and what is a behavioral boarding school? Forgive my ignorance those might be really silly questions but if I never ask I’ll never know 😉
If by actual mom you mean I gave birth to the children or adopted them, that’s a big NO. Haha. I work at a place called Gateway Freedom Ranch (our website is gatewayfreedomranch.org if you want more info on it), which is a behavioral boarding school, as I mentioned. When you think of that, think traditional boarding school (kids move away from their families to get an education) but more a focus on destructive behaviors instead of scholastics. We focus on girls aged 11-13 who caused chaos in their family and when their family had tried everything, they went looking for help! Their parents enroll them in this “school” where the kids are able to learn healthy patterns and move from their destructive behaviors into the plans that God has for them with the ultimate goal of successfully re-integrating them back into their family. My technical position isn’t “house mom” but that is one of the most accurate ways I know to describe it. My actual position title is “house leader.” That means that I make sure everything in our house is running to our director’s standard and all rules and protocol are being followed. I work with the girls and manage situations of rebellion and defiance every day. It’s such a hard job to describe! Haha. But I love it. 😊
Wow! You sound really awesome! The ministry you are part of sounds really cool too. I can’t imagine leaving home four days after graduation. That had to be really hard. I’m sure God is using you in great and mighty ways! I’ll be praying for you and the girls you are mentoring.
It’s only by God’s grace that I’m able to be used and a part of His plan. And thank you for your prayers. ❤️
That sounds so cool! I love what you are doing! I’ve always wanted to help mentor and help girls or young women. I’ll be praying for you and your girls as well! 🙂
Thank you for your prayers! ❤️
What exactly does your job entail? How did you feel God was calling you to it? Also, was it a fairly smooth transition graduating high school and going right to this job or were parts of it difficult?
My job entails quite a few things. I live in a house with 10 girls who caused chaos in their family and have thus been removed from the situation and put in our care. I do direct care in our girls’ day to day lives, whether that means working through daily frustrations with them or cooking them dinner or leading devotions to point them back to Christ. I do their medication management. I do any other little tasks my director asks me to do. There isn’t one thing I do. It’s kind a big conglomeration of a bunch of thing which is why I think it is best described as a “mom” kind of position. 🙂 I felt God calling me to it as I was preparing to graduate and I knew the opportunity had been opened to me for several years so I jumped at it! To be completely transparent, it was a very difficult transition. I have always been a self-motivated, semi-inependent person, but moving away from my family literally 4 days after my high school graduation was very difficult. I tried not to think about it much at first, moving so far away (my family lived in Florida at the time and have since moved to Virginia and are headed to the mission field in a couple of months). But God has been working things out in my life that couldn’t be worked out any other way and I’m so thankful for the chance to do it! Being a type-A, love-to-know-the-ten-year-plan kind of person, it has been hard but I have been slowly letting go of my need for control and learning about submission in the process. It is all a beautiful example of God’s faithfulness.
That sounds so amazing! Wow, I didn’t realize your family lived further away. I’m hoping to one day be a missionary in the States working with kids through sports. I’ll be praying for you! (:
I appreciate your prayers! And I will likewise be praying for you as you pursue the dream God has given you about reaching kids for the Gospel!
This perfectly expresses why I love being outside so much. You have a really neat writing style too — the kind that you don’t really notice but it makes you feel. Thanks for this!
Great article!! I think I want your yard… 😆
Great post, Amanda! I miss silence too, and I live out in the country. Modern technology and noise has created and environment of high stress chaos. Not to mention the health ramifications of wifi and radio waves that are pounding our bodies.
A lot of people don’t seem to know how to talk face to face any more ether. I don’t see the joy in very many peoples lives anymore.
I am always so happy to see young Christians like myself that are just in love with God. That is what makes the rebelution so special.
P.S.: I think, it is cool to see someone go strait into ministry after high school. If God is leading you to do that then… go you! Remember to put God first every day, and God bless you!
You are a very talented writer, Amanda, and this is a truly beautiful article!
However, I have two siblings with life-changing mental problems, one of them having ADD, and I would strongly caution you to be wise in how you talk about it. I understand you wouldn’t have meant to upset anyone, but for people whose lives have been affected with mental illness, it hurts when other people act as if mental illness is fake or a result of bad choices, while physical illness is real and just bad luck. It’s something that people are born with, and it’s something that takes a lot more than herbs, oils, special diets, or special activities to cure. At least one of my siblings wouldn’t be able to function if they weren’t on medicine, so it’s especially hurtful when people seem to criticize other Christians who do use medicine.
Hope that didn’t sound to critical, picky, or whatever. I’m not trying to be rude or looking for trouble; this is simply something that I’m sensitive too and am especially aware of right now.
Hi, Olivia! Thank you for taking the time to read my article and thank you for your feedback! Please understand that my intention in speaking of disorders was not meant in any way to be a bash of medicine or of people who have disorders. In no way did I mean it in that way and I apologize if this made you feel upset/attacked. If you’ll allow me a minute of your time, I’d like to explain what I meant by what I said. 🙂 I am speaking from a place where my life HAS been affected by mental disorders. I am a house mom at a behavioral boarding school, and as such, I come in contact with diagnosed mental disorders 24/7. Now, these children are not my children nor am I related to them by blood, but these girls that I live with day in and day out and who mean the world to me while they are here and who I come to love very deeply deal with not only things like ADD and ADHD, but also RAD and FAS, among other things. I am by no means discounting mental disorders as being a farce. I know personally that it is very far from that and I know that there are people who genuinely need medicine to help them (most of my girls do!) to function and live to their fullest potential. And to that, I say bravo! I’m thankful that God provided us with the brains to discover medicine and the like as a tool to use for His glory. What I was more referring to is that time and again, I have seen misdiagnoses of disorders that then become this huge mountain that the child has to climb but it is actually not a disorder, but a lack of structure and standards. This takes years for the child to get past the label that was put on them. Please understand that I am not saying that is your situation! At all! But I believe that God can and does heal things that are humanly impossible to even fathom considering the healing of. Because that’s the God we serve! Once again, I absolutely understand where you are coming from and want to apologize for not being more clear in meaning that there are a lot of misdiagnoses of these kinds of disorders as opposed to how I’m sure it sounded to you — that I’m against medicine and think all diagnoses of mental disorders are bogus. Far from it. I pray that you are blessed today! Thanks again for taking time to comment and let me know what you thought!
Can I say, this right here is one reason I love this website. A gentle rebuke followed by a gentle explanation. Olivia and Amanda, you are really putting into practice Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath…”
Haha, not sure I agree with everything, but certainly I do with the main theme — the wrong type of noise certainly distracts from our relationship with God and crowds out our time for genuine prayer.
So: we should actively take steps to remove distractions. At least for me, there’s zero value from Facebook and texting, so not having them in my life avoids incessant distractions 😉
Thank you for writing this article! It was very thought provoking and inspiring.
I love the phrase you included at the end: Silence is golden. It’s saddening to think that we live in a culture in which you have to actively seek out silence. However, this article has motivated me to do just that. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Amanda.
This is beautifully written, I often miss silence. Thank you for writing 🙂
You are so right. Even now I’m surrounded by my brothers talking loudly, dogs barking, and the keys clicking as I’m typing this. Silence is amazing. I love to go out to the back yard, climb a tree, and talk to God. Without music blaring or my brothers trying to get my attention. I wish that there was more silence too. I like some noise, but I love silence, because then I can talk to God without any distractions. Thank you for sharing.
So true! I love walking outside and just listening!
This is so true. For me, the sound of the fan rotating is sometimes enough to distract me! I’ve grown up in the city, but I still miss silence.
WHAT?! Your name is Alathia?!?! And you spell it a-l-a-t-h-i-a? So do I! My name is Alathia Haylie, it’s nice to meet you 😉
Actually, its a name I found when I was looking for a name for a book. I thought it sounded cool. Sorry to disappoint you.
Haha it’s okay! I can agree though, it is a cool name 😉
Very beautiful piece… sometimes I do think the noise in our lives helps us create a distinction between the influences of this world and the still small voice of our God. I believe its in is own way a test to see who will make the effort to press pause on their life and take quality time out to spend with God. – http://www.thesavingtruth.com
Beautiful! Your writing is excellent; it painted vivid pictures in my mind as I read. Thanks so much, Amanda! Nice name, by the way. 😉
Silence is something that is sadly missing in our lives these days. You’re right–sometimes we make so much noise that we can’t hear God’s voice above it all.
This post makes me wanna go find an empty field and drink in some quiet. Beautiful post. Thanks Amanda!
An empty field sound so lovely and serene! You are making me want to find one and sit in it! 🙂
YEESSSS!!! Someone gets me!
Basically, I’m easily overwhelmed by loud noise and sometimes get weird looks when I mention that I hardly listen to the radio (up until two years ago I didn’t listen to it at all). Well, it’s not so much loud noise but a bunch of different noises in one place…
Anyway, thanks so much for writing this article!
PS. I am of the firm conviction that you are never too old to climb trees.
😂😂 I know we could be friends if you think you’re never too old to climb trees. 👌🏼 Haha! Thanks for taking time to read my article! 😊
Yeah, I think sometimes I just keep the sound coming so I don’t have to stop and listen. But I love silence, and I definitely need it, it’s just hard to get myself to stop everything!
Wow! That was profound. I really agree that the noise in our lives often hinders us from being able to listen. . .and to pray.
Also, I find it ironic that this article was posted in such close proximity to the “19 Things I’ve Learned About Growing Up” by Jaquelle. I think these two articles both bring truth that needs to be balanced. We need to learn to grow up, but also not to grow up too fast. To approach God as a little, child with a listening ear and see how much more we still need to grow up. Thank you, Amanda!
Thank you for this, Amanda. I’ve really been thinking about how much our world is bombarded with noise and what kind of effect that has on us. Keep writing and listening!