Silent and Meaningful

22 Jun

On Monday I shared my feelings on the importance of quiet. I believe words and sounds can detract from our attentiveness to ourselves but there’s something else too. I think sometimes when we rush into the words we say to God, we detract from the power of our prayers and our worship as well.

I really attempt to be authentic in my exchanges with people and with God. I try to say exactly what I mean in as few words as possible but often, speech completely fails me. I’ve aggravated Hubs several times by stopping mid-argument to write down what I mean to say because I have such a terrible time actually speaking. What happens is my mind is in so many places at once that I can’t narrow them down into a sentence. I confuse myself and lose track of my point so much that I can never come back to it if I don’t just stop everything and write. The truth is, I don’t know what I really think until it’s down on a piece of paper somewhere and I’m surprised sometimes by how much better my hand can draft the thoughts than my mouth is able to form them. Go figure.

The point is, sometimes words are not enough and sometimes they are entirely too much. This scripture sums up nicely what I’m trying to get at:

“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)

When I say I try to be authentic, I don’t mean that I like something indie-cool. Or that I always have some wise thing to say that no one has thought of before. In fact, I’m afraid I’m too nerdy to be understood most of the time. What I really mean is that I don’t do things without thinking about them. Even when someone is watching and expecting me to do something, I just can’t unless I really mean it and that fully applies to my religious life.

Sometimes I ask Will if I’m a bad Christian because I don’t always like to do the things that other Christians do every day. For instance, I don’t usually bless my food. Eating out with other Christians has led to some awkward silences as everyone looks around to see who will say the prayer out loud. That person will probably never be me. Another awkward time for me is musical worship. I don’t often sing during a service. Nor do I usually lift my hands or kneel or have a lot of outward signs to match the inward process.

I don’t do these things not because I have a problem with them, but because I either don’t mean them or they’re distracting to me. Let’s be clear: I was raised in a Pentecostal church. There’s very little that anyone can do to make me raise a brow. I used to help lead worship by singing and I used to be an avid hand-raiser and at the time, I meant those things and they helped take me into deeper worship. If those things are meaningful to you, by all means use them. I just think that for a lot of Christians, prayer and worship have fallen into cookie-cutter shapes that aren’t truly pleasing to God.

I don’t want to bless my food if I don’t actually envision myself standing in front of God, telling him how thankful I am for the meals he provides. I don’t ask for healing if I’m not pressing into his courts to wrestle him for the sake of another. I don’t sing because I usually have an entirely different song I’m making up on the inside and everyone would stare me down if they heard me free-styling over the top of “Heart of Worship.” I just don’t half-ass my relationship with him. I try not to think of myself as a bad Christian because if I don’t pray every day, it’s because I think prayer is sacred and I don’t want to enter into his presence just to fill his ears with words I don’t mean. When I do prayer, it’s personal and real and usually there’s a struggle. I ask for impossible things and I demand that he changes his mind. I fight with him and I beg for understanding. We make promises and I warn him that I’m about to break a rule.

What I think is that the appreciation for silence has been lost. I think if you don’t have anything meaningful to say, it would mean more to God for you to just stay quiet and consider him. I deeply believe that the greatest form of worship is that sense of awe that you get when you’re camping on a mountain and you see more stars than you’ve ever seen in your life. You don’t have to feel like a bad Christian to sit in silence during worship and just take him in, whispering in your mind what you actually feel instead of singing a song you’ve known since you were a teenager. Don’t pray or sing or clap if it takes away from that moment of wonder when you remember him or when you realize he’s near. Don’t lift your hands or dance in the aisles if you lose that quiet second when you tip-toed nearer to him. Let your words be few but true.

Oh, and don’t worry about the other people looking. Being ready every now and then makes you wiser than the fool who throws out words every day.





2 Responses to “Silent and Meaningful”

  1. Melody Kristensen June 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    You are an amazing writer. What you said about not being able to sometimes speak as you get your thoughts confused. My husband goes through the exact same thing. It makes communicating in our household interesting to say the least. However, as quiet as he can be about most things, when he has something to say, I have learned its usually worth listening to. Being half Puerto Rican, I grew up in a loud household where we interrupted each other to be heard. If I interrupt Ronny he gets lost and forgets what he was going to say. Valuing his opinion and wanting to hear what is in his heart as taught me to hold my tongue and hear him out. I enjoyed reading your post. 🙂

    PS I dont think wanting to worship from the heart and not merely acting it out is a bad Christian at all. ♥

  2. Angela Jackson June 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Wow. Your honesty never ceases to amaze me. You have a great way of putting things. Such depth for a young woman. You are awesome my dear.

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