One of my favourite times of the year is the beginning of a new one. I love a blank canvas, a fresh notebook, or an empty calendar, because each of them have the same thing in common: untapped potential. The thing with limitless options, however, is that I tend to want to say book them all faster than you can say RSVP.
In the past this has lead to some problems for me, such as overcommitment, overwhelm, and overstimulation. Clearly me + ‘over’ don’t function well together. Instead I’ve discovered that a slow and steady mentality, while maybe not quite so exciting, is a much healthier mindset for me to live with on a day to day basis. More tortoise, less hare, to put it concisely.
“Instead I’ve discovered that a slow and steady mentality is a much healthier mindset for me to live with on a day to day basis.”
So when January bursts onto the scene filled with fresh prospects and exciting opportunities, it takes everything in me not to say ‘yes’ to all of them without a second thought. Which is why I desperately need to embrace the scarcity and silence of the winter season and apply it to my daily experience. Looking for, and lingering in, silence allows me the time to consider my values and my reasons for saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to various opportunities.
Since silence is a gift that helps me make decisions, it’s something I need to reconsider at the beginning of every year, and probably more often than that. Silence helps me tap into my intuition, pray about possibilities, seek a greater purpose for my life, and question my motives. When I do these things, I tend to make choices that I’m at peace with, even if the decisions don’t thrill me.
“I require silence in order to weigh, sort, sift, and meditate on all these things, and put solid decision-making at risk if I relinquish too much time to the noise that vies for my attention.”
In a world full of noise, I have to deliberately carve out space for silence. To choose to drive without music. Do the dishes without a podcast playing. Edit photos without a movie on in the background. Work out without a business training or tutorial to listen to or watch. Go to bed without an audio book lulling me to sleep. I love learning, growing, and understanding, so much of what I choose to ingest, media-wise, is beneficial. But too much time listening to other voices and perspectives, no matter how relevant or informative they are, can easily drown out what I need to hear most: Biblical teaching, the Spirit’s guidance, the wisdom of those whom I trust, and my own thoughts and desires. I require silence in order to weigh, sort, sift, and meditate on all these things, and put solid decision-making at risk if I relinquish too much time to the noise that vies for my attention.
I also need silence in order to allow my mind to wander, grant my heart time to feel, and let my imagination create. Too often scrolling, playlists, and the next new thing on Netflix tempt me to trade time in silence for ‘inspiration’. But for inspiration to truly take root, to have an impact beyond an ‘aha’ moment, silence is a requirement. It serves as the blank page for our creativity, and I believe that without it, we would cease to produce original thought or truly inspirational work of our own.
Last winter I had the chance to spend many hours hunting alone in a tree stand. I did listen to an audio book here and there, but I knew that if I really wanted to get a decent shot, I’d have to surrender all of my senses to the opportunity at hand. I needed to be as present and as undistracted as possible. To sit in the quiet of nature, and to practice not only silence, but observation, solitude, and stillness. The discipline paid off — I culled two deer which filled my family’s freezer for a year.
This winter, I may not have the opportunity to be enveloped by the all-encompassing practice of hunting, but I can take what I gleaned from the experience and apply it to my every day suburban lifestyle.
I can take 5 minutes in a parking lot to sit quietly before returning home from grocery shopping. I can lie in bed before I arise and think about what I’m most grateful for, BEFORE I’ve checked my inbox or social media feeds. I can sit by my kids’ bedsides once they’re asleep and devote those quiet moments to prayer. To listening. To breathing. Deeply and intentionally. I can be still and know. In the quiet moments of my day, I can listen to the still, small voice that nudges me towards my best yes.
“But for inspiration to truly take root, to have an impact beyond an ‘aha’ moment, silence is a requirement. It serves as the blank page for our creativity, and I believe that without it, we would cease to produce original thought or truly inspirational work of our own.”
It is difficult as a mom to find moments for silence. To find moments of stillness, solitude, AND silence is virtually impossible unless I specifically carve out a time to either leave my house or have my family leave it! This trifecta often feels unattainable. But to find a moment or two for just one of these practices is usually doable if I intentionally look for them. And I need to remember that before I flood my calendar, every ‘yes’ requires some silence.
If you are looking for an extended time in which to practice silence, my Women’s Walking Retreat is a fantastic opportunity. One of the things I notice when I walk long distances is that my prayer life moves from being one of talking to God, to one of listening to Him. Being in nature and becoming attuned to the creation around oneself enhances this act of listening in silence. If you have decisions to make for the future, healing from the past to pursue, or just the desire to be present in the moment, my Women’s Walking Retreat is an experience that will enable you to embrace all three. But I promise it’s not a silent retreat! There are loads of opportunities to connect and bond with the other women on the trip. Click HERE to learn more. Bookings close March 1, 2023.