I am unique. God created me and He loves me, just as I am. I know this to be true. I am thankful for a God who is big enough to make each being’s design distinct, and for a God who loves me so much that He knows every minute detail of my being. Knowing this has caused me to become passionate about helping people understand how they are wired in order to break free of prescribed assumptions of how to connect with God. It is easy for me to compare my relationship with my creator to everyone around me and decide that if I’m going to be a good Christian I must pray as much as so and so, study the word as long as this author says, write in my journal such and such amount of times. These assumptions have been stumbling blocks in my walk with God.
Breaking free from the “should’s” of spiritual growth has expanded my idea of what it looks like to connect with God. Taking a walk in the hills has changed from an extracurricular activity to a transformational experience. Reading the Bible is not just about reading the passage and answering questions on a sheet of paper, but can be about imagining myself in the story, or meditating on the verses to uncover what I hear God saying to me through His word. Since each of us are unique, I’ve learned that there isn’t a formula to spiritual growth. Doing something because it worked for someone else won’t help me to grow. I have to find what works for me.
I have found a challenge to my new found freedom. There is one discipline that seems to surface as a non-negotiable piece of spiritual growth. It’s been showing up in everything I’ve been reading and hearing. This common practice is silence. Carving out intentional time to be with and listen to God. What I am learning is that unless I make room for this particular discipline in my life, I am not creating space to hear from God. Regardless of who I am and how I am wired, if I don’t allow silence to be part of my rhythm I am missing out on an essential connection with God.
I’m probably the only one who wasn’t aware of this. As I type these words, it seems that it is as obvious as saying I need air to breathe. It’s like saying if I don’t listen how am I supposed to hear? In my desire to connect with God, I need to be willing to do my part, to create space to hear Him speak. My personality, giftedness and internal wiring doesn’t change this fact. If all I ever experience is busyness and noise I’m keeping the door shut to experiencing intimate connection to my gracious, patient God, who is always there to meet me in the quiet.
This new idea doesn’t unravel my perspective on how we grow in our faith, but it does make me aware that somethings should not be ignored or neglected. When days turn into weeks that turn into months of keeping an intense schedule without room to breath, let alone stop and just be with God, it seems there is no escaping the harried pace I’m in. The faster I run on my own effort, the faster I have to run to keep up. However, in those rare times where I choose to stop and invite God into the equation, He provides the stamina and sets the pace and direction to keep me moving into more of the person He calls me to be.
That doesn’t mean that the silence has to look the same for me as it does for someone else. Silence can occur on a walk around the lake just as well as it can curled up on the couch in my favorite room. Silence can include praying, pondering, journaling, listening. The important thing is that it occurs. God made me, in my unique wiring, to be in His presence, to hear Him when He speaks. So regardless of what it looks like to me, I need to make time to meet Him in the silence.