Sunday, March 27, 2011
The other day as I was running, it struck me how easy it is to focus on taking care of my body—eating properly, exercising, getting rest, etc.—but completely neglect the care of my immaterial self—my soul, my spirit, my heart. To be quite honest, I don't think I know how to take care of my immaterial self. Our class exercise on silence and meditation left me realizing how rarely I take time to stop and ponder, examine my heart, and just sit in silence. In The Great Omission (2006), Dallas Willard argues this very point:
“Solitude and silence are the most radical of the disciplines for the spiritual life because they most directly attack the sources of human misery and wrongdoing. To be in solitude is to choose to do nothing. All accomplishment is given up…Silence is required to complete solitude, for until we enter quietness, including not listening and speaking, the world still lays hold of us. When we go into solitude and silence, we even stop making demands upon God. It is enough that God is God and we are His” (p. 212).
As Christians and as future counselors, it is critical that we understand the need for silence and solitude in order to attend to our soul wounds, develop our spiritual life, and tune our hearts in to God. Our immaterial self is no less real because we cannot see it.
In our over-stimulated society, we tend to look for the grand and glorious in the spiritual realm. So did Elijah. But, surprisingly, God was not in the great wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. Elijah heard God speak as “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12).
As we engage in the gut-wrenching work of people-helping, we must not forget to take time to simply be. Be still. Be quiet. Be alone. Be with God…and with ourselves. We would be foolish to neglect the need for solitude and silence…in our own lives, in our clients’ lives, and even in the counseling process…for it is in the silence that God most often speaks.
And without God speaking, it’s all just a bunch of words.