Artist’s Lane: Listen for the silence

By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

A writer stood at the podium and spoke. His first words, “When I came here two years ago, I met you in my nightmare hour.” He choked up and continued as I sat in disbelief. 

While I listened to him speak of his pain, I couldn’t help but think that my head must have been in a fog at the time. I had no idea the struggle this man was going through. He had never said anything before this moment. 

It made me wonder just how many people are carrying the weight of the world on their own shoulders, crying in silence, needing to be heard.

As for me, I am at a place in my own life where I am looking forward to experiencing a bit of quiet. Although I am still writing and supporting other writers, I find myself seeking more and more comfort during the ever illusive still of a moment. Maybe it’s because at my age, my home and schedule still resemble Grand Central Station. 

It is a self-centered thought, but one I have dreamt of. I imagine getting to the summit of my own mountain climb, hearing God tell me, “Good job. You have persisted along your journey and have reached a place where peace be yours.” 

On second thought, maybe that is the opposite of what God wants me to hear. After all, I have encountered more and more people who are seeking relief from a place of quiet that has enslaved and even tortured them. 

Maybe the message to me is, “You’re not through yet. It’s time you are awakened to the hush that haunts others.” 

Perhaps there are those who I need to hear from, those who need to take solace as I walk with them as they seek true repose. 

I have never had a problem being heard. I know what I believe and I speak what is on my mind. But, there are those who are yet to discover their voice. Not because they don’t know who they are or what they believe, but because the adversary is bidding for their souls. And, he will stop at nothing until we know nothing but shame and destruction. 

I have always believed that it’s important to be quiet as we wait on the Lord to develop us. It can be in those same times, however, when we are flooded with attacks against our heart and mind, causing us to question our worth. 

There was a sweet boy, a perfect child, focused, achieved accolades in sports, who was pursued by the best colleges in Colorado. Why worry? This child had it all together. Wrong.

He left for college and started on his journey towards discovering himself. Along the way, drugs and alcohol fueled a sense of entitlement and emotion that filled his world with noise and distraction. Meanwhile, during his quiet moments, he wrestled with identity and confidence. 

On the fortunate side of misfortune, the devil overplayed his hand. The young man came crashing down. His once strong, athletic body became bent like a pretzel. He sat alone in darkness, crying in silence to be set free. 

Like so many others, he cried out. “Where are you, God? How did I get here? How do I escape?” 

Although his would be a story of redemption, this young man isn’t alone. There are countless others who are seeking an escape from a voiceless vortex that is spinning them out of control. 

A friend called, worried about her daughter. She had smashed her face in a glass, attempting to commit suicide. 

It wasn’t the welcoming sound of a symphony that caused her to take such drastic actions, but a pit of despair that muted any voice of reason. 

Final brushstroke: Have you stopped and looked at what is going on around you? It can be difficult. To do so means we have to selflessly direct our attention toward those who are languishing in silence. It also means that we may have to use our own sought-out moments of peace and tranquility to hear what only God can direct us to hear. But make no mistake, there are those we need to stand and fight for, and it is not for those who are making all of the noise. First, we need to learn how to listen for the silence. Second, we need to be willing to give up our own agenda for the sake of securing one far more important and everlasting. 

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This story was posted on November 17, 2020.