Over the years, I've gotten into the habit of constantly surrounding myself with noise. Every time I walk into my quiet apartment, I immediately turn on the TV. It's not that I'm interested in watching it; I'm just uncomfortable with the silence. When I'm alone in my car, the stereo is always blasting. On school days, I wear my iPod from the moment I step out of my car until I reach the classroom. I constantly surround myself with noise.
Because when it's quiet, my mind fills with endless lists: Lists of things I've neglected to do and people I haven't called, of chapters to read and tests to prepare for, of bills to pay and groceries to buy, of choices I regret and decisions I need to make, of unanswered questions about my future. When it's quiet, I remember my failures, my fears, my weaknesses. I think about the people I have loved who will never love me back and I remember the emptiness I received in return for that love. When it's quiet, I remember how lonely I am.
Maybe that's why I'm always turning on the TV or the stereo or my iPod. It's all I can do to keep myself from getting overwhelmed with life. And you know what? It works. That's also the problem though. I can't feel much of anything with all of this noise going on around me. How can I be comforted if there's a band behind me, overpowering the words God is speaking to me? How can I receive answers if I can't even feel myself breathe?
I've decided to turn it all off. Turn off the TV, turn off the stereo, turn off my iPod. Not all the time, of course. I do love my music, after all. And how can I go a week without getting embarrassed over something idiotic that Michael Scott says or does? Occasionally, though, it's OK to listen to nothing but silence. It's not going to kill me if all I can hear is the ticking of the clock or the hum of the refrigerator.
As I was driving to San Antonio last night, I remembered my goal and turned off the stereo. In that hour-long drive, I received some very distinct impressions about my life that I might have otherwise missed out on. Yes, I did feel a little overwhelmed by all the craziness flying around in my brain. And yes, a few tears did escape after all that pain wasn't masked anymore. But you know what? I'm OK. And I'll be OK. Because I realized this:
The noise we allow into our lives may distract us from whatever it is we're hiding from, but it will never take it away. Silence, on the other hand, opens the doorway for reflection and personal revelation - both of which can provide healing.
I'm setting aside time each day to allow more silence into my life. I think you should too.