Each week, I get one day off from my job as a college minister. That means I don’t have to answer my phone or emails or texts of any kind. I have the entire day to myself. Uninterrupted time to rest, have fun, be refreshed, and do whatever I want.
Sometimes it feels like this is the hardest day of the week for me.
Without the usual busyness of life to keep me distracted, my mind wanders to deep, unsettling corners of anxiety and fear. In the quiet of my day off, a loud, screaming flurry of mental distress emerges.
I worry about my family, health, faith, career, bank account, faults, shortcomings, marriage, country, friendships, and when Tom Brady will just retire already. I worry about everything.
The daily tasks of a typical workday are a numbing agent, and without them I am forced to face the anxious thoughts I’ve buried all week. In these moments of uncomfortable silence, I run to noisy things like social media, Netflix, video games, and other forms of screen-escape to distract myself, to cope with the general pain of reflection.
I’m afraid I’m not alone in this. It seems that a piece of quiet is a haunting thing for many people today that are so distracted and ‘connected’ that they’ve forgotten how to live with themselves in a moment of stillness.
One of my friends recently told me that going to bed is the hardest part of his day. When he sets his phone down for the night and tries to close his eyes, he is met in the darkness of his room with a storm of worried thoughts.
Another friend told me that as soon as he wakes up in the morning, he turns on music because he can’t stand himself. He needs to be around other people, or he needs to have loud music going, like a psychological band-aid. He falls asleep every night with his mind cradled in the arch of blaring headphones.
When is the last time you just sat? No phone, no background music, no people around you, just nothing. Try it. Go sit somewhere quietly for 20 minutes. I suspect this seems like a strange request to the modern person. I find it more strange that we find it strange.
I don’t need a degree psychology to know that this unrest is unhealthy. Why is a piece of quiet such a daunting thing to step into? And where can we go to find peace in our quiet?
*I can’t in good conscience end the post here (though I almost did), for it would be like a starving man in a starving community stumbling on a marvelous feast and keeping quiet about it. I cannot keep quiet about the peace offered by Jesus Christ:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30