Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Can I take a guess as to what your life might look like right now? If you’re listening to this within the month after it first airs, you are navigating invitations to go to church and school programs, as well as attending holiday meals at the homes of family and friends. You’re keeping an eye on any potential sales that might be popping up so you can get a great deal on that gift you want to give. And you might even be trying to get a head start on your 2023 plans and goals—because you know that the next 6 weeks is going to be so incredibly hectic that you’re not going to get a chance to sit down and do anything until after it’s January, and that’s too late for you as a planner.
How close did I get?
I’m not going to go on and on about the busyness of the season or why our culture has set up this way. You know what it’s like. You know the pressure you feel.
You also know that one of the things we miss out on when we’re caught up in the holiday hustle is that it leaves us with little room to pay attention—to what we’re doing, to the people we’re with, and to what God is doing in our lives.
Are you willing to give that up?
Imagine replacing hurry and anxiety with peace and joy.
Imagine having the space to recognize what is stirring within you instead of feeling like you have to shove it back down again because you’ve got to get on to the next thing.
Imagine actually experiencing God’s presence as you celebrate Christmas, Emmanuel, God with us.
What might that be like for you?
The truth is, you don’t have to subscribe to the idea of the holiday hustle. You can practice the holy hush, instead.
The Holy Hush
So what is the holy hush and how does it help us experience God’s presence?
Holy hush is a Quaker idea that represents the kind of deep silence they practice, not just on their own in their personal lives, but together as a group in their corporate worship services.
As J. Brent Bill says, “Friends believe that Christ is actually present… that when our hearts, minds, and souls are still, and we wait expectantly in holy silence, that the presence of Christ comes among us.”
I talked about this last week when we were talking about those times when God is silent, when it seems as if He’s not answering our prayers. And how, if we can just settle into that deep silence with Him, we will experience His presence there with us.
But this silence, this holy hush, is about more than experiencing His presence; it’s also about relaxing into God’s love.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to truly linger in God’s loving presence?
Quieting our bodies and our minds communicates an anticipation that Jesus will be there. We are ready to hear from God, to hear from our King, to hear from our Friend. We want to know what He has to say. But more than that, we simply want to be with Him. To experience His presence there with us.
And Christmas… Christmas is about welcoming Emmanuel, God with us.
Let me ask you, where do you need to experience God this holiday season? Where do you need God with you?
- Are you so desperately lonely and seeking a friend?
- Are you grieving the loss of someone you loved so deeply?
- Are you disheartened and discouraged by what’s going on in your community?
- Are you tired and unable to sleep?
- Are you fighting for the rights or safety of a loved one?
- Are you endlessly caring for an aging parent?
- Are you seeking answers to the pain that you feel?
Where do you need to experience God this holiday season? Name it. Write it down. Ask God to show up. And then wait in that silence for Him to make His presence known to you.
Ways to Practice the Holy Hush
But how do we do this? What are some ways to practice the holy hush this holiday season? Or really, ways to practice it at any point in the year, so that we can experience the presence of God with us?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to cancel all your plans and stay home. Because part of celebrating is being with others, right? But here are some ideas to welcome silence into your holiday season:
Practice Silence in the Everyday Chores
Practice silence in the everyday chores of life: washing dishes, folding clothes, making the bed, setting the table, letting the dog outside, or even wrapping gifts. Instead of turning on music or trying to hold a conversation with someone nearby, simply do the task quietly. It may not even take more than 30 seconds for you to finish what you’re doing, but that 30 seconds is a chance to pause and experience God’s presence there with you.
Don’t Rush to Fill Quiet Moments
Similarly, don’t rush to fill quiet moments with conversation or music. If the kids are playing quietly and the conversation has lulled, just rest in that silence without feeling the need to put on music or the TV or even to ask a question. Rest, even if just for a minute, in that silence together with your family. This can be at home in the family room, or in the car, or at someone’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. It doesn’t matter. Lean into those natural moments of silence and see how God shows up.
Allow Yourself to Rest in the Silence
Another idea is to literally allow yourself to rest in the silence, to rest in God’s loving care—to the point that you might actually fall asleep. Ruth Haley Barton has noted that one of the things many retreat-goers experience is that on their first day of the retreat, they often fall asleep. Not only did their bodies need it, but their spirits needed it, too. So rest. Rest so deeply in God’s love that you take a nap.
Set Extended Times of Silence
If you’ve practiced silence before and are a little more comfortable with it, then maybe be intentional about setting more extended times of silence throughout the holiday season. Maybe 30 minutes a day, or one morning a week, or whatever kind of rhythm works well for you. Set that time aside. Go to a quiet place and practice holding silence together with God.
Now, none of this has to be perfect. Squirm if you need to. Try to make yourself comfortable so you can endure the uncomfortableness of the silence, if it is, indeed, uncomfortable to you at first. That’s okay. Just keep practicing it. Keep trying.
For Those Carrying Grief
For those of you who are carrying grief or heartache into the holiday season, know that practicing silence is one way you can commune with the living God who mourns with you. You might still hurt, you might still grieve, you might still have questions, but it all becomes a little more bearable because you know that God is right there with you.
And if you realize you’re ready to begin processing some of that grief and trauma with God, even now as we enter into the holidays, then I would love it if you entered my Journal Gently program. This is an 8-week program designed to help you bring some of those hurts to God through writing. And while you get the privacy you need to process and reflect, you also get the support you need, because I am there praying for you, answering your questions, and guiding you along the way.
Now, don’t forget that as a podcast listener, you can save $30 on the Journal Gently program by using coupon code _____ when you check out. (Listen to the podcast for the code.) That’s my gift to you, and you have until the end of the year to use it. Just go to lovedoesthat.org/journalgently to register.
So what do you say? Are you with me? Are you willing to practice the holy hush instead of the holiday hustle? And if so, what does that look like for you? I’d love to hear. You can email me at email@example.com, and remember, my name is spelled K-A-R.I.
Okay, that is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
- Episode 91: When God is Silent: Experiencing His Presence in New Ways
- Holy Silence, by J. Brent Bill
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.