I feel broken
Like there’s a piece missing
like something just doesn’t quite…
Throughout my life there have been moments that caused me to feel like I just wasn’t put together quite right. From looking at the people around me it looked like things just seemed to work out for everyone else, but for some reason when I tried…it just never worked the same.
This happened to me often when I tried things like:
- Getting a girlfriend
- Being “one of the boys”
- Making people laugh with my terrible jokes
I can’t tell you how many times my little emotional self cried that YET ANOTHER girl told me she thought of me more as a brother than a boyfriend.
But one area that I never expected to feel busted,
was when it came to my faith in God.
I had grown up in the church. I understood the gospel since I was a very little kid.
I knew all the Sunday school answers.
I went to all the Christian events.
I gave my life to Jesus.
I even led multiple small groups and bible studies.
However, despite all my work,
all my study,
and all my faithful prayer,
I often left my “time with God” feeling like something wasn’t working right.
If I was such a good believer and leader,
why did I always feel like God wasn’t saying anything to me?
Why was it that every time I sat down and really listened for God to give me some kind of direction all I heard was
My guess is you have felt this way too.
People are always talking about times when God spoke to them like something straight out of a burning bush
and all you keep getting is crickets.
So what do you do when you work and work to hear God speak and all you hear is silence?
What do you do when you feel like God isn’t saying anything to you?
Remember, I in no way have all the answers or even any good ones. So when I share the following suggestions, it is merely my best shot at offering some help and hope in an area that I have experienced for much of my life. It is simply one beggar trying to help another.
1. Don’t take it personally
One thing I’ve learned about people is that everyone feels like they’re the only one.
I am no exception.
I constantly feel like I’m the only one going through something, until I say something about it and suddenly EVERYONE has gone through the exact same thing (or at least something very similar)!
And trust me, I wouldn’t be talking about this subject if it wasn’t something I hear OVER AND OVER from nearly every person I have spoken with, worked with, or given spiritual direction to. The “I don’t feel like God is saying anything” conversation is one of my most common conversations I have.
So, the first thing you need to hear when you aren’t hearing anything from the Big Mystery up there is…
It’s not you!
You’re not broken.
You’re not the only one.
You are experiencing something that every saint and sinner has encountered at some point, or even MULTIPLE points in their lives. So take a little hope and encouragement knowing that you are part of a very large, very understanding family. Don’t take it personally. You’re not alone.
2. God IS speaking to you
“Ok, what the hell, Kurtis! You just said…”
I know what I just said, and I meant it. Just hear me out.
God may not be SPEAKING to you in a way that you hear Him with your ears or even your mind, but He is COMMUNICATING with you.
93% of all language is nonverbal. I can’t tell you how many times when my wife and I are…um…aggressively disagreeing…that I lose my cool NOT because of what she said, but because of how she said it.
In the same vein, you can pretty much say anything to me with kindness, intentionality, and humility and I will listen to it.
It’s pretty similar with God.
If you aren’t hearing Him talk, chances are very high that He is drawing you in through other means.
He may be reaching out to you through other people’s words,
through the love you find around you,
or through your circumstances.
I often find myself shouting “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON” only to realize I haven’t been paying attention to some unresolved issues within me.
Later, I recognize that God was using my circumstances to get me to take care of myself better. He was loving me through frustrating things, and He didn’t have to utter a word.
3. Open your eyes and ears to the world
The world around you is speaking to you.
I love being up for the sunrise (though GETTING up isn’t always the easiest).
I love it because the world of people isn’t quite up and going yet, but the natural world is.
It’s during these times that I really try to listen to God and Her universe speaking to me so I can enter the day with peace and patience. But very often, I don’t hear anything from God.
Instead, I hear the birds chirping. I hear water dripping off the roof from last nights rain. I hear the wind dancing with the trees or even the tall grass. One morning, I was blinded by the light bouncing off a huge spider web that hadn’t been there the night before.
These are all things that God has used to remind me how beautiful, wondrous, and sweet my life is and can be if I only open my eyes and ears to catch it. And I would have never paid attention if He had vocally responded to me every time I called out to Him.
You likely won’t get the result you’re looking for. A spider web probably isn’t going to give you the answer to “should I quit my job.”
Leaves rustling aren’t going to form words and tell you to go here or there.
Instead of looking for answers, try letting the love and presence of God surround through the peace and beauty of the simple things around you.
4. Lean in to the tension, let it take you deeper.
Growth means struggle.
There is nothing and no one in this world that grows up into who and what they were designed to be without struggle.
Sure, babies grow physically on their own, but no one becomes a healthy, mature human being without going through some crap.
Skills require practice
Innovation requires failure
Spiritual growth requires silence.
It’s really difficult when we feel like God isn’t speaking to us. After all, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing…right? Wouldn’t a loving God that wants to be with me also want to talk with me?
Of course. But it’s not always that simple.
Would a loving mother put her children in a life or death situation voluntarily? No, but mother birds do it to their young all the time because they know it is a time of rapid growth for their children. To withhold this right of passage would be stunting their growth and hindering their ability to do what they were meant to do…soar.
It isn’t that God is being cruel.
And it isn’t that you are doing something wrong.
Every human being that grows some depth to their connection with the Divine goes through seasons of silence and struggle.
It makes us stronger.
It keeps us from relying on things that come too easily, like quick responses or simple solutions.
If God is being silent, don’t run away or google the latest quick-fix guide (ironically like the one I just recently released titled “How to Hear God in 90 Seconds!!! Excuse me while I laugh at myself for a moment).
If God is being silent, lean into the tension of that silence. Let it marinate
for a minute,
for an hour,
or for months.
Know that God is still present, and She loves being in your presence without having to say anything.
5. Surround yourself with people that love you.
I need to start keeping a tally of the times this suggestion shows up in my posts,
because it’s so important and true!
People remain God’s number one representation in this world. We were made in His image and we are carriers of Her love to the world.
When you are having trouble hearing from God or feeling His presence, oftentimes the best thing you can do is be around something tangible that does love you; someone that you can touch and talk to and hear when they respond.
Community is not a replacement for God’s own Spirit, but they are an incredible reminder when you need one that you are not going crazy, and even if you were, you are still loved.
Those are my five best suggestions and reminders for what to do when you aren’t hearing anything from God.
What has helped you in difficult seasons of silence?
If you haven’t read Silence by Endo Shusaku, it’s a must read.
Is that what the movie was adapted from? I saw the movie. It both destroyed me and left me screaming “YES!!!”
Yes. I did not see the movie. I was afraid it would not be comparable to the book, and not sure I could make it through the torture scenes. The book was fascinating, compelling, heart-breaking, and even relatable at times.
Yep…that sounds like the movie. The torture scenes weren’t terrible but it did get pretty stressful at times. Overall, I absolutely loved it. I need to read the book now!