I’ve been thinking a lot about silence lately.
I’m an introvert, so silence doesn’t bother me. Silence is like oxygen to me. Without a steady diet of quiet, I gasp for breath like an asthmatic frantically searching for an inhaler during an attack. Silence is essential. It feeds my soul.
But there are times when silence can be maddening, even for this introvert.
I’ve had several health issues since January. It all started during a regular checkup when a nurse noticed a low heart rate. My resting heart rate typically hangs out between 45 and 50 BPM. It’s not dangerously low, but it is low. If I were an elite athlete, this would be normal. While I’m in decent shape, no one will ever consider my physique “elite.”
So began a series of tests to determine if something was going on in my body needing attention. I’ve had EKGs and blood work and stress tests, and medication shifts. Finally, after months of exploration, my Dr. thinks it relates to sleep. Thankfully, after many long months, we have a plan.
Apart from constantly feeling physically tired, the hardest part of the past several months has been the silence that follows each test. The hours and days (sometimes weeks) spent waiting for results have been difficult. In the silence, every worst-case scenario played out in my mind. I’m good at catastrophizing. But, in the hospital, I often talk with people after they receive an awful diagnosis. They say, “Yesterday I was fine.” After enough of those conversations, I know I am not immune to the worst that could happen.
Restful silence feeds my soul. The silence of waiting on a diagnosis is everything but restful.
But in all the waiting time, much was happening away from my line of sight. Technicians were testing my blood. Radiologists were examining my scans. Doctors were analyzing everything and considering the possibilities. A whole network of people was collaborating to find a direction forward for me, and they have. It has been a slow and steady process to get there. But when they did, they didn’t withhold anything. They made it known and pointed me toward what to do next.
I wonder what is happening beyond my sight when God goes silent. And God does go silent.
When God is not speaking, does that mean God is disinterested or aloof to my struggle?
When God is not speaking, does that mean God is laying dormant or off on holiday?
Or is the silence of God part of the slow and steady presence of God?
Maybe that’s why the Psalmist wrote as if God was inviting God’s people to “Be still, and know….”
When God is silent, maybe it is an invitation to calm my catastrophizing mind and rest in the solid and silent presence of God.
I want to lean into this idea more.