Reduce the Noise

WhiteSands.jpg

I sat on my couch, overwhelmed with the deafening noise. What was the noise? Was it the tv, or an airplane, or perhaps the strange things that tend to come from my household of 3 teens? No, it was the noise in my mind. The next step the noise tends to take for me is depression. I get so overwhelmed with things, I cannot handle it, and I sink into depression. Yes, Christians can deal with depression. 

 The noise of the world around us is constantly begging for our attention. The emails, deadlines, appointments, text messages, Facebook notifications, Instagram comments, the never ending “what’s for dinner” question. We fill our lives daily with all the outside noise to the extent that our heart cannot hear what the Lord might be trying to tell us. 

 Why do we do this? Some of it is need. As I always say, “If I don’t do it, no one will”. I know for myself one of my biggest downfalls is busying myself. There are some things you just can’t get around, such as work and demands of the kids’ schedule. But in how much of our lives do we let other people have the reins? When we don’t have control of our lives, we end up feeling burnt out and jaded in life in general. 

 Another source of noise is the expectations we have of our lives. One day, after returning from our vacation for two, I was busying myself in the house doing things that needed to be done. I’m one of those people that doesn’t sit and rest until it’s all done. So yeah...I never sit and rest. Anyway, Robb looked at me as he has many times before with tired eyes and said, “Are you going to sit down and rest at all?” I answered as I always do “Yes, in just a minute. I just have to vacuum, clean the bathrooms etc.” It takes a lot to keep my house the way I want it with 5 people, 3 dogs, a cat, and a turtle making messes every day. But this time it struck me I wasn’t just doing things to get the done. I didn’t want to sit because my heart was hurting, and it was my way of blocking the task of processing what I was struggling with. I was at the point of feeling burnt out and jaded by life. My expectations of life and God we’re not at all lining up with what I had always thought. These thoughts just added to all the other noise in my head, making it that much louder. My mind can be one of my biggest enemies. 

 I know I am not alone in this. I know I am not the only one who struggles with the noise of my mind and the outside world screaming for attention. I know I’m not the only one who hides disappointment in my heart. Whether it be disappointment of the way life has turned out or disappointment in myself, it is very real. I know I’m not the only one who has battled depression. 

 With all this noise many of us deal with on the daily, how do we come to a place of peace? Where is the peace in life, peace with ourselves, and peace with others? How do we fix this? How do we allow God to fix this? I’m sorry to say this, but just picking a scripture and standing on it isn’t enough. I don’t think that was God’s plan all along. We are perfectly capable of being a more active part of the solution than just saying “Yep, that’s my scripture I picked”. Or, as James would say, “Faith without works is dead.”

So, what are some practical applications to reduce the noise in our lives?

 1.     Create white space -  What is this? This means blank areas on the calendar. Have days where nothing is planned. Leave those days open for you and God. Invest in your relationship with God as you would in someone you love. 

2.     Put the phone down - I am oh so guilty of this. I have had a smart phone since 2007. Sometimes I feel like it’s been more trouble than not. It is considered an addiction just as much as any other addiction these days. So, say “no” to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and whatever else there is now begging for our attention. We spend so much time in that world the people right in front of us get ignored.

3.     Say “NO” -  It’s ok to say “no”. You do not owe anyone an explanation. If you’re not going to protect your white space, who is?

4.     Forgive -  Forgive others and yourself. Replaying all the hurts in your mind just add to the noise. Have grace on people, realizing their humanity. If you’ve been hurt, get over yourself. Everyone has been hurt. If you hurt someone, let it go. Everyone has hurt someone. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

5.     Realize God’s goodness -  God is a good God. My favorite scripture has become Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This means whatever nasty situation happens, whatever disappointment we feel, eventually we will see God’s goodness take over. I have seen some pretty hairy situations end in God’s goodness. God is a sovereign God. And when we walk through things we do not understand, that shows we are only human, and limited in our understanding. God knows the end of the story and His sovereignty takes over. 

6.     Turn off your mind -  Like anything in life, it’s a choice. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” We must override the weakness of the flesh with our spirit. Speak to your mind and tell it to rest. Don’t be a doormat to your feelings and your flesh.

This life we have is our only shot on this earth to complete God’s assignment. If we are spending our days overwhelmed by noise, our minds, and depression, how can we be effective? Let’s take some time to quiet the noise. Will you join me?