Noise

My five year old does the funniest thing sometimes- he covers his ears, and then yells whatever message it is he’s trying to get to someone else.

He’s so desperate to get the words across, so hilariously cracked-up in his goofiness, or so deeply angry, that he screams or hollors or shouts whatever it is to whoever it is that’s the target of his outcry. But his own noise is too much for him, so he covers his own ears.

It’s a crazy loud world out there right now. Social media a frenzy, the news relentless, the updates never ending. Bantering, bickering, badgering. Chaos, conflict, calling.

And it’s a crazy loud world in our own lives right now. Fostering and family stuff, transitions and trauma.

So much noise, but the loudest chaos for me is from within. My own internal screaming back and I wish I could just cover my own ears to my own loud.

I’m reading “The Body Keeps the Score” and learning more about the condition I battle called PTSD. It’s been fascinating to learn about how triggering loud noises are for PTSD, and what neurological and nervous system responses are set off with the loud. I think back over the last couple years and can see it over and over again. The agitation with the kids playing too loud, high stress at their screams, panic at their squeals. I’m constantly jumpy to noises, whether it’s a creaky door or a sneeze or a sudden laugh. I feel the instantaneous reaction as my body automatically skyrockets into fight or flight mode. I have to diligently remind myself that it’s good when the kids are happy, that it’s just a sneeze and not a personal attack, and that the world is sometimes just loud. But the biggest reminders are telling myself that I’m not a bad mom or a lousy Christian because I feel the way I do because of noise. It’s a physiological response that will continue to need a lot to heal.

This weekend is looking to be an especially noisy one, as fireworks light up the 4th. For those of us city-dwellers though this has actually been a several week long level of loud already. Fireworks have become the new nightly, and sometimes daily, norm. Honestly, it’s been challenging. Once the kids are in bed, the quiet restful nighttime has been a critical time for me to heal and recover. The sudden loud booms have been jolting, startling, and disrupting; and when you have PTSD those experiences can be debilitating. My mind has been battling strong agitation over the constant fireworks and it aches for those whose PTSD struggles have a direct connection to those specific sound waves.

 But we can’t take all the triggers out of the world, nor would we want to- how much joy from others’ would have to be robbed? I catch myself shhh-ing the children again and again and a lot of times, that’s okay, and needed; but many other times I have to take deep breathes and steady myself and strain to hear the joy in their loud over the trauma of mine. We can’t silence all the noise, or where would there be joy?

A blurry picture, busy and moving, noisy pixels, chaos due to glee. I captured this moment a year ago, and still remember in that experience trying to be fully present and partake in the happiness, instead of worrying about kids and crowds and water and waves and all the other dangers around me that seemed to just disguise themselves as fun. Hyper-aware of every possible catastrophic scenario is a daily battle post-trauma.

Whether it’s internal or external, or both, the noise is deafening. How do we find solace and silence in these volume increasing days?

For PTSD, I carve out moments of silence, go through breathing exercises, do yoga, keep my quiet time with God prioritized, practice grounding techniques, and get counseling.

With all the global and sociological noise, I limit my news intake, take regular and sometimes long breaks from social media, and bring my phone under subjection. The book “12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You” has helped immensely in these areas, and I highly recommend it in this technology saturated season.

Wherever you are right now, and whatever noise is filling your feed, head, home, or heart, please hear my call, amidst the rest of the noise, to find some level of silence. Turn the notifications off. Volume down. Thoughts taken captive. And above all, be still and know that He is God. Just like loud noises in my life does something to my PTSD, the loud around us in the world does something to our souls.

If we don’t by God’s grace control the volume it will control us. The shouting that permeates our lives and culture can drown out God’s peace, joy, and truth and take us down a path of anxiety, angst, and confusion. Trauma or no trauma, we must daily, and even moment by moment, be guarded about what volume level we’re allowing into our environment and personal exposure.

So what do you need to change today? What disciplines need to be added to your routine? Less scrolling and more Bible reading? Limited social media and more quality studying? Less arguing and more worship? Less news and more prayer?

I recommend starting with a moment of silence before God’s presence, intentionally and prayerfully listening to His heart. Where are you, today? Tossed about by all the waves and loud and heavy? Is your heart troubled and thoughts scrambled? Are you missing out on the joy of the Lord because your eyes have been set on things temporary instead of eternal? Have your spiritual disciplines gone by the way side because other voices have had your attention more than His?

Be with God, dear one. He does not give us the spirit of fear nor is He the author of confusion. He is a good, good Father who desires for you to live in peace and rest and with fullness of joy. Even during the most chaotic and loud of times.

Scripture referred to and to meditate on:

Ephesians 4:14-15

I Corinthians 14:33

2 Timothy 1:7

John 14:1

Colossians 3:1

Psalm 16:11

Psalm 46:10

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