After living in a family with both parents and my three brothers, going to college and living in a dorm full of girls, and then getting married and having a family with four daughters, quietness was something that hit me hard after Bob went to heaven and I moved into a house to live all alone for the very first time in my life.
I moved from a world of busyness to a total and complete quietness that was frightening. That silence has stripped away all pretenses and masks. Henri Nouwen says it well when he said, “It seems that a person who is caught up in all that noise has lost touch with the inner self. The questions that are asked from within remain unanswered. Unsure feelings are not cleared up, tangled desires are not straightened out, and confusing emotions are not understood. All that remains is a chaotic tumble of feelings which have never had a chance to be sorted out. When there is no one to talk to or to listen to, an interior discussion may start up–often noisier than the noise we just escaped. Many unsolved problems demand attention; one care forces itself upon the other; one complaint rivals the next, all pleading for a hearing. Sometimes we are left powerless in the face of the many twisted sentiments we cannot untangle.”
This is exactly what I have been going through for the last four years. All of those questions from within that began clamoring for a hearing were very overwhelming at times to the point that I thought I might be going crazy. That was when I knew that I needed professional counseling to help me sort out each thing one at a time and deal with it in the right way. My personality is such that when I am faced with things, I want to immediately take care of it all. But, that has not been the way that God has worked in me. He has made me slow down. As I can handle it, He continues to bring one thing at a time to light. He gave me the time and the quietness I need to just sit and process without interruption. I believe that many of the diversions in our lives — some that we look for in the things outside us — is an attempt to avoid confronting what is going on inside.
Henri Nouwen again says, “To be calm and quiet by yourself means being fully awake and following with close attention every move going on inside of you. If requires the discipline to recognize the urge to get up and go as a temptation to look elsewhere for what is really close at hand. It offers the freedom to stroll through your own inner yard and to rake up the leaves and clear the paths so you can easily find the way to your heart. Perhaps there will be fear and uncertainty when you first come upon this ‘unfamiliar territory,’ but slowly and surely you will discover an order and a familiarity which deepens your longing to stay at home with yourself.”
Can you picture yourself having the courage to face your real self inside and taking all the time you need to clear up all of those inner cobwebs that have become so thick that you have to literally rip them apart? In a way I was forced to do that. It was nothing that I would have ever dreamed that I needed to do. It was just so much more comfortable to stay in those familiar rooms with boxes stacked to the ceiling and only a tight pathway to walk from room to room. But, now I can say that it is so much more freeing and totally cleansing to face down everything inside, open each box one at a time and discard the contents, uncover the windows, wash them until they are sparkling clean so that the sunshine can come flooding in, and wash the floors of your heart until they are shining. Is it hard? Oh yes! It’s tremendously hard and so very painful. It also takes a lot of time. Is it worth it? YES! YES! YES! It is worth it all!! Are the rooms of my heart completely emptied and swept clean? Not yet. I would venture to say that it will be a continuing work in progress.
Can you stand to be alone from time to time with your eyes shut pushing aside all of the noises and just sitting calmly and quietly? Will you have the courage to face your inner self so that the real YOU can be revealed in all of the glory that God designed you to be?