They say, "we are what we eat"... or as author J. W. Earley puts it, "we become the stories we consume." I know, the latter quote isn't exactly about eating, but both of them seem to imply that what we take in has a way of shaping us, even changing us.
I don't know about you, but my first reaction to either of these sentiments is to think, ah so I guess I need to really be careful what I eat (or watch, or listen to, or read, or otherwise consume). Garbage in, garbage out, right? Part of me feels a little guilty. Like maybe some of the things I'm choosing to watch or listen to aren't exactly having an "edifying" effect on me.
Then the next string of thoughts is to double down a bit, maybe set some new goals, pick up my Bible with renewed vigor or find an inspiring true story that will motivate me to be on fire for God in some kind of new way.
I really do kind of crave good stories. I've become more and more aware of this. There is something about a good story that feels very life-giving to me. It's not unlike the feeling I get from being in a meaningful conversation or listening to a thoughtful podcast or even reading a caring note from someone. All of these things energize me and part of me feels like if I go too long without them, I start feeling a bit out of sorts. (Who knows, maybe there is some kind of addiction here that I need to deal with at some point. But I'll spare you from going any deeper into the inner workings of my soul.)
As far as becoming the stories I'm consuming, though, I think I have a fairly good appetite for good ones. You know what I don't have as much of an appetite for? What I don't tend to naturally gravitate toward to feed me?
Silence. Quietness. Intentionally choosing NOT to engage in another story or video or conversation. Just be still. Rest.
It's not that I don't ever want it to be quiet. Believe me, living in a house with five young lively children, there are PLENTY of times when I long for quietness! But I think what I often don't realize is that quietness can feed me just as much as - if not more than - a really good story or conversation.
When you think about what feeds you, what comes to mind? What are you consuming? What do you wish you were consuming more of? Or less of? I wonder what would happen if more of us chose to let quietness be a regular part of the stories we were consuming. Might it have a way of changing us?
Scripture tells us that there is strength to be found in quietness. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." What is perhaps more telling and a bit more convicting is the phrase that comes immediately after these words: "but you would have none of it." (Isaiah 30:15)
Let me be the first to confess that more often than not, when I'm looking for what good things I need to consume, I'm not looking for quietness. My hunch is that the same could be said of our students and our children. How do we teach them the power and value of not just consuming good stories, things that are true, but also consuming pure, simple quietness? Letting quietness do the work only quietness can do.
May God show us the way to live lives that have quietness woven into our regular habits and routines - in our homes, in our hearts, in our schools and in our communities.
Pray with me...
... Lord, grant us the gift of quietness and help us to recognize it as a gift from You
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
... God, show us how to teach and pass on to the next generation this gift of quietness
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9
... Father, help every part of the ACSD community to cultivate quietness in ways that will help us to grow and be a blessing to those around us
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Above: painting by Michelle Glick (BCS Parent). More of her beautiful artwork can be found at Glick's Greenhouse in Oley.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory