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Four Reasons We Are Afraid of Silence

If you’re like me, you fill most waking moments with some sort of noise. Maybe it’s music, the radio, TV, Pandora or podcasts. Too often, I find that the noise I’m shoving in my ears is my own voice. If it’s not literal noise, there’s figurative static. Meaningless and mindless Facebook scrolling, YouTube ridiculousness, whatever controversy is exploding on Twitter.

I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid the silence. It makes me uncomfortable. Why?

I think it’s all about fear.

1) I’m afraid of being bored.

Why am I deathly afraid of boredom? I read somewhere that boredom breeds creativity. Maybe I’m afraid of the creative impulse … it always pushes me toward art and thus risk. And if I’m honest, I know risk means the possibility of pain … and comfort is a value I hold all too dear.

And then there’s the fact that if I quit filling up every moment with noise I could listen to myself, to others, to God.

2) I’m afraid to face the truth about myself.

I’m afraid to really confront myself because my pride would likely be wounded at what I would be forced to admit upon an honest examination. I’m not the husband, father or minister I should be. The older I get the more I come to grips with the fact that I just won’t measure up this side of Jesus coming back. The more I live with this, the more I don’t like it.

3) I’m afraid of not being appreciated.

I don’t listen to others because on some level I value what I have to say more that what you have to say. Plain and simple. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s ultimately some sort of coping mechanism for my own insecurity regarding the objective worth of my ideas. So I prove it to myself by monopolizing conversations at the expense of others.

4) I’m afraid of holiness.

If I sit in silence long enough, there is a good chance I might actually hear the voice of God. This is quite honestly a terrifying possibility, because God will call me to change. He will draw me toward deeper obedience, and I know that means leaving treasured sins and long-held personal preferences behind in favor of being conformed to the image of Christ and following him into the depths of self-denial and discipline.

What if today is the day that God leads me to my own cross?

Silence is scary. That’s why we avoid it so strenuously.  

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I grew up Benin, West Africa as the child of Southern Baptist missionaries. I grew up in a Christian culture that valued the Bible, enthusiastic worship, powerful manifestations of God’s presence, and unity in diversity.