Four Changes That Happen To You In Silence

The path to all great things passes through silence. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Beginning with my time as a high school teacher and coach, and now as a spiritual director, I have seen a consistent theme emerge when others feel safe enough to be honest. It seems particularly dominant in men, but it can impact women as well. Here’s the theme in a short statement: 

I am on my own. I have to figure life out by myself. 

I have experienced this in myself as well and have seen it so often in other men that it seems to be a default setting, regardless of a man’s belief system. The statement carries with it a feeling of a deep-rooted disconnection from others, and, most critically, from God. It is rarely verbalized, perhaps because it is built into our innermost psyche, but it appears in very recognizable ways in our emotions and inner dialogue. 

Yet this statement is a lie, one that needs to be renounced.  For if God is always present and always at work, we are never on our own to figure life out.

On a basic level, Landmark exists for this very reason — to expose lies like this and replace them with the truth of Jesus. It aims to help men recognize that He is already at work in their lives. When they are able to do this, they can then take up the calling that God has for them. Check out this two-minute video to hear what this looks like:

Perhaps one of the most surprising ways to encounter God is simply by entering into a space of silence to experience His presence and voice. While this can seem intimidating at first, the fear and uncertainty will dissipate over time, and the transformation will start. Here are four common changes that happen as you spend time in the “way of silence.”

From Absence to Presence

The fundamental breakthrough that happens to men in silence is they become aware that God is not distant or unreachable. In fact, sometimes for the first time, they realize He is present and engaged in their lives. 

The hard part for many of us is to be still enough to recognize Him. We are just too busy. But when we allow ourselves the freedom to turn everything off, we become aware that God is always trying to initiate something in our lives. He is pursuing you and seeking to shape you into the person He wants you to become. 

From Monologue to Dialogue

The next change that happens in silence is the move away from prayer as a monologue, where we’re just doing all the talking. We typically start off a relationship with God just talking to Him and hoping He is listening. 

But silence makes us aware that there is a live party on the other end of the phone that wants to speak as well. We begin to experience prayer as a dialogue. It becomes a conversation with Jesus. This alone can be a tectonic shift in a man’s soul. When all of a sudden you realize the God of the universe wants to communicate with you personally, all sorts of things can start to happen!

From Work to Rest

The third change happens when you move from being uncomfortable with silence to longing for it. Silence just feels awkward in most human conversations, and that awkwardness comes into our experience of prayer. Further, the unknownness of silence can produce mild anxiety: “I’ve never done this before,” or “What’s going to happen here?” Some men are even terrorized by silence because they are afraid of what’s going to come up inside of them if they actually stop. The thought of that is too much to bear, so they just keep running. 

Becoming comfortable with silence is a gradual process. At first, it might feel like work, but over time, you feel a decrease in fear, anxiety, and shame. God’s living presence becomes your deep rest. Silence then starts to unlock and unblock whole areas of your life unavailable to you before. 

From Checkboxes to Desire

The fourth change is a subtle one in your spiritual outlook. You begin to move away from the world of oughts and shoulds. In its place comes desire. 

It is so easy to operate from a checklist mentality, all the things you should do and ought to do, such as being a good husband, a good father, a good friend, a faithful follower of Jesus. But encountering God’s presence and love in the silence moves you into desire: “I want this. I really, really want this. I want to connect to God, I want to speak to Him, I want to hear Him. I really want to be this kind of husband and father.” 

When you shift from checkboxes to desire, it can be like opening a door into a new world never before explored. It is the world of a man learning to feel God’s heart toward him and then living out of that deep place in his exterior life. 

Moving Forward

So where do you start? How do you figure out how to give space and structure to enter silence? There are some men who can do this on their own, but most of us need a little help. Here are two simple suggestions: 

  1. Take a Friday afternoon and come to a Quiet Day where you can press pause on all the demands on your life for a few hours, and enter into a guided time of silence. To see dates and register for one, go here.
  2. Sign up for a complimentary session of spiritual direction with no obligation to continue. This is a chance to take spiritual direction out for a test drive and see how it feels. Each spiritual direction session always starts with a time of silence. And besides myself, there are two other trustworthy men who have joined me in this amazing work, Richard and Jon Micah. To read more about spiritual direction and schedule a call with one of us, check out this link. To learn a bit about each of us, click here.

A man’s deep strength is found in the silence. Jesus lived that. Every man who has walked behind Him has experienced the same thing. Come and experience it for yourself. 

Bill

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