There have been a few times in my life when God has gone completely silent. I would ask him questions, scream requests, beg and plead for him to respond—but he wouldn’t say anything. It was like He was gone.
It wasn’t until recently I had a revelation about why this might happen.
At the end of last year, I was traveling a ton. And, for the first time in my two years of marriage, I was traveling without my husband. This wasn’t a big deal for us, except that it was a change from our usual rhythms, and I’m finding in marriage that anytime you change your rhythms, it has this way of throwing you off balance.
So by the time Christmas came around, we were awkwardly out of sync.
It was weird, because while our relationship certainly hasn’t been perfect, our problems have never included silence. We have this fiery way of relating to each other (reflective of our temperaments) always either sublimely happy and laughing, or raising our voices and stomping around.
But by the time I came home from my final trip last year, there was no laughing or stomping. There was just silence.
We would wander around the house, doing our own things really—him going his way, and me going mine—and there was no yelling or fighting or anger or unkind words. There was just quiet, so unusual to what I know about us. He felt so distant, in a way he had never felt before.
I thought about speaking up on a few occasions, but honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say. It wasn’t like I could point to a specific issue or instance: “When you said such-and-such, it really hurt my feelings. Can we talk about it?”
He hadn’t said much of anything. Then again, neither had I.
Which left both of us wondering, I think: Who was going to speak first?
I don’t remember exactly who spoke first, but eventually, we did talk about it. It started off pretty awkward, like trying to describe something you can’t see, you can only touch and feel as you tiptoe around in the dark. I was scared to say the wrong thing—to step on a land mine hidden by our shadows of silence. We moved slowly and cautiously. It took us a long time to make progress.
But eventually, it was like someone turned on the light.
It wasn’t one of us who had stopped talking, stopped communicating, stopped coming close. It was both of us.
This was completely frustrating for me at first, because I could point so easily to moments I had reached out. Remember that text I sent? Remember that question I asked? Remember that long phone call? But the more we talked, the more I realized he could point to as many situations where he had been the one left hanging.
Remember that thing I asked you to do (that you never did)? Remember how you interrupted me and cut me off?
No wonder my husband had gone silent. I hadn’t been really listening.
And when I had that realization, it reminded me of those times in my life God had gone silent. Could there be a connection? Of course, our human relationships are not exactly like our relationships with God, but they can often act as a comparison. They can help us understand.
And when I compare my relationship with my husband to my relationship with God, it helps me understand why God had sometimes gone silent all those years before. It wasn’t because he didn’t love me. It wasn’t because he didn’t care.
A relationship requires two people to function, two people to find a balance. (tweet this)
And, for all intents and purposes, I had disappeared from my relationship with God.
I was still there physically, but had checked out emotionally. I would reach out when I needed something, or when it was convenient, but rarely showed up ready to love and serve and listen and hear. I did plenty of things to prove how lovable and worthy I was but rarely let my guard down enough to allow him to see the real me.
God hadn’t given up on me. Neither had my husband.
It was just like each of them were saying, in their own ways, “When you decide you want to be in this again, I’ll be here.”
I had never thought about God this way before. I had always thought about Him as sort of impenetrable, unfeeling, un-moveable no matter what I said or did. But then again, I guess I sort of thought of my husband this way too. It wasn’t until each of them went silent that I changed my mind.
That’s when I realized how much I mattered in each relationship, how much responsibility I had.
And so it was in speaking up, in wandering around, in trying to explain something which I didn’t understand—it was in forging new territory, moving, changing, adjusting and opening—that I began to hear them each speak again.