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Quiet Please

Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 9/13)


Silence the Noise Out There!

In the opening scene of the award-winning movie, For Love of the Game, we meet injury-riddled veteran Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel (played by Kevin Costner). He is on the baseball mound, zeroing in on his first pitch at Yankee Stadium in a game at the twilight of his career.  The cacophony of sounds around him include the elevated train behind center field, 56,000+ adversarial fans - including hecklers behind home plate - the announcer, the stadium sound system and people blowing horns and calling him names.


But as he begins his wind-up, you experience him “silencing the noise around him” to focus on home plate and the batter in front of him.


In a study published in the New York Times in 2019 titled The Quiet Brain of the Athlete, the researchers discovered that, “The brains of fit, young athletes dial down extraneous noise and attend to important sounds better than those of other young people.”


One other data point: researchers interested in determining what made an all-star-caliber NBA free throw shooter have zeroed in on what they call the “Quiet Eye.”  It seems hitting 90% plus of free throws in a season has less to do with physical prowess and more to do with simplifying the distractions and focusing one’s mind.


Silence the Noise In Here!

If you are like me, at times the worst “noise” is not outside but inside.  It’s the running commentary I have with myself.  It’s the judgements I internalize about other people.  It’s the distractions I let play out in my mind. A recent statistic on the internet indicated as much as 46% of our thoughts on a daily basis were these internal distractions that bring us down.


The ability to silence this type of noise is particularly important for those of us who aspire to be spiritually fit. Silence is a deep focus on God by turning off the world around us. Indeed, when we learn to practice this type of personal silence, the Bible tells us we are on the road to becoming wise. In his letter to young Christians written 15 or 20 years after the resurrection of Jesus, James (who was Jesus’ half-brother) challenged them with this:


“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” — James 1:19-20


I think Ted Lasso was on to this truth when he reminded former soccer-club owner Rupert that “it is better to be curious than judgmental.” Their classic dart match from the hit television show where Ted shares this bit of wisdom has been watched more than seven million times on YouTube!


How can you and I do a better job of quieting our inner opinions, anger, and self-centered frustrations so that we can be “curious rather than judgmental?” One of the reasons so many Christians have practiced for hundreds of years a morning discipline of bible reading, reflection and prayer is because it helps to silence the noise and self-centered distractions that pop into our heads continually.  What similar habits have you engaged in to silence this noise?


Questions for Reflection:

What would it take for you to become better at “quick to hear and slow to speak?”


What would it look like for you to find your own rhythm of daily spiritual practices?


How would a closer relationship with God keep you from the bad type of anger that James mentions?

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