We are under attack. The unprecedented amount of noise and the uninviting amount of busyness threatens to undermine the universe.
Are you noticing my fun with words beginning with “un?” No, I am not writing this in my underwear. LOL But on a serious note, when I asked the readers of healthy spirituality last fall the question “what was the biggest challenge in their faith”, the number one answer, the grand “UNO” response was busyness. The second highest answer was hearing God and our own selves amidst the noise bombarding us, internal and external.
Noise and Busyness
Do we just accept that these two obstacles to our relationship with God persist or can we stop a moment and try to change our circumstances?
Let’s start with the external demands of noise and busyness, then next Tuesday explore what we can do to find more internal silence, peace, and stillness. I wager the internal battles we wage in these arenas are more difficult.
“One of the greatest attacks of the enemy is to make you busy, to make you hurried, to make you noisy, to make you distracted, to fill the people of God and the Church of God with so much noise and activity that there is no room for prayer.
There is no room for being alone with God.
There is no room for silence. There is no room for meditation.
I didn’t want a boring list of to do’s, should’s, or “I’ve read that before.” I wanted to try an unusual and undeniable way to uncluttering noise and busyness in perhaps an unique way to remember these simple steps.
Ideas to Unarm External Noise and Busyness
- Unsuitable. Consider if you need noise or not. I have learned I write with more focus in a silent environment. I read with more depth in silence too. I sometimes use the website Focusatwill.com which provides background music that helps us concentrate but I have noticed at times I even have to turn that off. Take the time to evaluate how much noise and busyness take precedent in your life and do you really need them as much as they are present.
- Understand. How much time do you need in silence each day? As an introvert I need some time of quiet and stillness for the health of my soul. I have learned not to rush into the day each morning, Too often the demands of the coming day undermine my prayer time. I kept shortening my time with the Lord.That wasn’t good for my spirit. I have learned I need at least 20 minutes of contemplative prayer with God each morning.
- Undertake. Take the time to write out your ideal work environment and ideal day/week schedule. Try to implement it to the best of your ability. If we are honest, we can find places to be still, to pray, to rest.
- Unexpected. One of the unexpected tools I have discovered are my noise cancelling ear phones by Bose. The first time I switched them to silence I couldn’t believe the peace I felt.
- Unaware. The best intentions of our friends and family don’t always match our need to quiet. So ironically talk with the people around you. Explain to them your new adventure to explore less noise and busyness. Get them to help you. Often they are unaware of your need to unclutter the noise. Give them the opportunity to work with you, not against you. I am so thankful I have an understanding hubby who gives me space when I am in my office, especially when working on a project. I have learned though to tell him what I need – “I think I will be done in about two hours… or what time do you want to leave for that errand and I will try to wrap up by then.”
- Unplug. The world we live in right now is too plugged in. Turn off the ding of the cell phone. Why do I need to answer that text right now? I do have voice mail. I don’t need to know every joke on Facebook or news story on my app or to achieve four more levels of Angry Birds. Set office hours to respond to email and tell others your plan. I know interruptions will still occur but since taking these steps, I am feeling like I am beginning to set healthier boundaries around cell phones and social media.
- Unexplored and Untried. Note what times of the day and days of the week are typically quieter in your home or office and use those times for more difficult work or even downtime for yourself. After a couple of weeks or months in an office, you will notice a pattern of activity that you can make work for you.
- Underlying. Break the cycle of glorifying busyness. Why is it the badge of honor or the expected answer to “how are you?” Try a week of not even using the word busy! And consider if paying attention to noise or allowing busyness is a form of procrastination and putting things off for you.
- Unimportant. Get crystal clear on what you do want to accomplish. Knowing your goals will help you find focus and determination to drive through obstacles. At times we need to ask ourselves are we “doing good or doing our best?” You have heard the quote, “the good is the enemy of the best.”. We may be doing great things that may not be the best thing for us in this season of life. When busyness gets a hold of us, we become bound by our ‘shoulds’ and we cannot be at peace in our lives.
- Unfounded. Are you being busy or productive? Be honest. What is driving our need for noise or busyness to fill the voids in our lives? What false beliefs are undermining our best intentions? I am asking myself lately how much I am contributing to the noise instead of listening and being quiet and still.
Name this unlikely undoing for what it is: too much noise and busyness is unhealthy, unwelcomed, and unnecessary. Be unafraid. January is the perfect time to unclutter this unholy obstacle to our spiritual growth. I plan to taking one of these UN words to heart to pray about and ponder – #8 jarred my spirit – pay attention when something stirs within you – I do glorify busyness and too often try to find my self worth in what I do, instead of who I am – a beloved child of God.
I wrote this post to underscore how much noise and busyness interfere with my time with God and the work he calls me to do. I hope my game with the “Un” words helps unburden you of these obstacles to God’s unfailing love and unchangeable nature. God is so good. Undeniably!
Next Tuesday internal noise and busyness will be undertaken. Until then, may all you undertake unfold in unison with God.
What helps you to turn off the external noise and urgent drive towards busyness in life?
Connie Rosser Riddle says
Thanks so much for this rich post– offering so many suggestions on places to get started intentionally making our life more quiet. I find that at times I’ve kept my life too busy and too noisy because the quiet seemed boring. But now, after realizing the impact noise has on me (I just turned my t.v. off!), I’m more aware of my need for silence. It’s hard to hear the ‘still small voice of God’ when I’m hyped up on the clatter.
Best to you,
Jean Wise says
I know I need more quiet and white space , Connie, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. We almost get numbed to all the noise around us, don’t we? Hope you have a great weekend that include time of rest, peace and silence. Blessings
Connie Rosser Riddle says
Hope you have a quiet and restful weekend as well!
Martha Orlando says
Jean, your clever use of the “un” words was absolute genius! Made me chuckle as I read your wonderful post here. Yes, I carve out time each day to simply be still and quiet before God. I have to for the sake of my sanity. I never listen to music, or anything else, when writing/reading, and I, like you, have a very understanding husband who knows when I’m deep in a project or a book, and gives me space. So necessary for us introverts!
Jean Wise says
I had fun with those UN words and did give me a framework to think through this process and choose one to work on. I am going to unplug at least once a week during Lent. will see how that works too. Yes as introverts the quiet soothes our souls.