I am going to be scarce on Facebook this month. Not my author page—that’s still busy and would love visits from you and anyone you send there!
But my personal page is going to be pretty quiet. There are a few reasons for this. One, it’s National Novel Writing Month, and if I’m going to really compete for the big bucks, I’ve got to get 50,000 semi-coherent original words written by November 30, midnight, Central Standard Time. I suppose I might be able to get away with telling the website I live in Hawaii and buying a couple extra hours, but really, you know the saying “Nothing good happens after midnight”? True of writing as well. I shudder to think what might end up written on this keyboard by 2am.
I’m not writing a novel, but I am writing as many articles and posts as I can, so that still counts. In fact, this blog post counts, so if it’s longer than usual, you’ll know I’m padding that word count.
But that’s not the main reason I’ve chosen a Facebook fast. And while I’m at it, total confession. Also a Jigzone and Sporcle fast. (Online jigsaw puzzles and trivia quizzes, respectively. Highly addictive.) And car radio.
A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon about learning to be quiet and listen to God. The problem with that idea is, we simply don’t know how. We are a people who can’t sit through a dinner without responding to a Facebook notification on our phone. We can’t drive one hour without music on our car stereo and/or a movie playing in the backseat.
We live in a ceaseless, endless noise and clamor of opportunity and options. And somewhere, despite the nagging truth that we don’t actually like the noise, we’re terrified that if we unplug, if we are not 24/7unavailable, if we don’t take every opportunity that jumps in our line of vision– our validity as people is up for question. If enough people didn’t like my status yesterday, I’m just not worth my space in the universe.
Heaven forbid we not fill the silence. We have become a people who cannot survive without distraction, but it’s destroying our ability to be still. To breath. Listen. Live. Quietly before God.
In his book Margin, Dr. Richard Swenson argues,
“Because life has now shifted to exponential terms, the issue of limits has suddenly become an important one. We coast along . . . Then, suddenly, we hit our head on the ceiling. Previously, there was abundant margin in the world system, and we did not have to worry about limits. We could grow, expand, and waste as much as we wanted without worry. This is no longer the case. We have met or exceeded limits in scores of areas but don’t know how to pull back. How do you slow a careening world when the throttle is stuck wide open?”
We’re careening. I’m careening. And I don’t like it. So I’ve decided to slow it down. I’m fasting from the electronic distractions that suck my time and my presence. I want to be present. To God, and to others. It seems appropriate for a time of year when we’re supposed to focus on what we truly appreciate.
I want to be quiet. I want to listen. I’m not good at it, but I’m going to try. Most of all, I want to allow enough quiet to face the questions God has for me, and the dreams he dreams for me.
What keeps you from finding your quiet space to listen? What helps you? Maybe we’ll talk about some of those ideas another week.