And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:12a
and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:12a KJV
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live… Isaiah 55:3a KJV
How are our kids and grandkids of this iGeneration supposed to hear a gentle whisper or a still, small voice over the technological din of their lives? Are they in a quiet place long enough to incline their ear toward the voice of God? Are you?
Stillness, quiet, and, dare I say, silence is needed now more than ever. With social media, online videos, texts, emails, dings, ringtones, vibrations, and flashing lights in perpetual motion, it’s nearly impossible for our kids and teens to turn off. Their lack of experience and maturity begs assistance from the older generations. We must be the grown ups and put limits on device time. Yes, they will fight it tooth and nail, and no, you will not enjoy it; but whoever said denying ourselves and going against our selfish nature was easy? The upside is that consistency over time can alleviate much of the fuss.
We must teach ourselves and the following generations to be still and calm their overactive minds. This does not come naturally; it is a skill to be practiced and improved upon. Learning to sit quietly and listen to your own thoughts gives us all time to reflect on and process what we’ve heard, what we think, and what we value. It’s in these times we discover our own voice and strengthen our own convictions, as we review instances of victory, missed opportunities, or unbecoming behaviors. That means having device-free time set aside DAILY, in order to foster patience, delayed gratification, self-acceptance, and inner peace. The addictive urge to pick up a device at the onset of any downtime, even momentary lapses, is unnerving.
In order to hear the gentle whisper of God, one must be quiet and listen. The iGeneration is the least prepared to do that, but we can help them make it different. In fact, the best way to show how to comfortably sit with your own thoughts is to be able to be still yourself. So, the first challenge is for you; perhaps you and those over which you have influence or authority can learn and grow together in this area. Try these tips:
- Throughout the day, set aside quiet times where no screens are permitted. Perhaps in the morning before school or work, after school, or before bed.
- Start out slowly; initially, you might allow yourselves to read a book, color, or draw quietly. As you become more comfortable in the quietness, you might eliminate the activities and simply sit and think.
- Start out with short intervals. It will take practice to disconnect and be still. You might start with 5-10 minutes and work your way up to a good 30 minutes or more. Gauge yourselves so as not to expect too much or too little, as you see yourselves progress.
- To release stress, consider practicing deep breathing or a bit of yoga during your time to set yourself up for peace.
- No devices for the last waking hour of the night. Research shows that the last hour before sleep should be device-free to avoid overstimulation and aid in falling asleep.
- Set aside a place to store devices overnight: not in bedrooms. Use the out of sight, out of mind approach. Research has found that the mere presence of devices in bedrooms, even when silenced or turned off, can cause anxiety, distraction, and anticipation that hinders a restful night’s sleep. You can liken it to leaving sweets on the nightstand with the instructions not to eat them; point taken?
Hopefully, these tips will help you and the children and teens in your life grow comfortable with being still and listening to the gentle whisper of God. As a result, you will enjoy the gift of a deeper relationship with Him, gain a better understanding of yourself, and experience personal growth.