Some days I feel assaulted by the constant noise.
The tv is blaring in an empty room
The dog is barking
My computer is dinging
My oldest son is singing loudly
My youngest is loudly crashing his blocks to the floor
My to do list is screaming in my head
And then my poor husband calls and asks me a question and I just snap.
Both mentally and at him.
And it's not just the kind of inevitable noise that comes along with being mom to two little loud boys, being married to a morning person and living in a house with a dog who is convinced he is actually my third son.
It's also the noise we invite in.
Instant notifications on our phones.
All of this constant external noise morphs into internal noise that just keeps going.
It's occupying the precious mental real estate that traditionally has been reserved for the normal everyday noise of face-to-face interactions.
And it's taking up the normal real estate of our minds that has traditionally been saved for silence.
The children eventually head outside to play
The dog inevitably follows them around.
And the husband heads off to work.
Whatever the face to face noise is -- it often fades and leaves us in some sort of silence.
Unless we, of course, begin filling that silence with invited noise.
And here's what I've found about invited noise: it doesn't seem that loud until it's compared to the silence.
I took a week off of engaging in personal social media, online reading, regular media and turned off the TV at our house (without ever actually announcing I was intentionally doing such to the kiddos), and here's what I realized:
We just don't know how deafening that invited noise becomes while it's still blaring sort of how I never realize how loud the noise in my house builds into until I find myself irritable and overwhelmed for seeming no reason until I explode.
Silence normally takes center stage in our daily lives at some point ... But only when we stop inviting the excess noise in.
I found that when I invite the extra noise in, no matter how awesome it sounded, I don't have nearly the capacity I would otherwise have for in-person noise.
My oldest son actually noticed part way through the week that I was barely touching any technological devices. He also remarked several times about what a happy week we were having.
I don't know if he connected the dots, but I certainly did.
During that week off, I found myself engaging more deeply and fully in conversation with my husband, my boys, friends and even God. My prayer times were deeper, sweeter and less rushed. I felt a few times like I'd actually met God for tea while the boys played under afternoon sun.
What started as restriction actually felt surprisingly freeing after the initial day.
I returned to screen interactions with hesitance and even a little sadness but also a renewed sense of boundaries, which has afforded even more freedom.
And I returned knowing one thing more deeply than this extroverted people-person has ever realized:
Silence is golden, yes.
But silence is also necessary, especially in a world full of serious, almost constant noise.