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CU Alumna and Hamilton Cast Member Finds Identity in Christ By Ashley LaLonde Growing up in the heart...
December 22, 2022

Why the Practices Are Both Challenging and Invaluable


By Anne Kerhoulas

Silence and solitude are unpopular disciplines. In our fast-paced, technologically connected, over-worked world, who could possibly have the time and energy to prioritize being alone in silence? And if we had the time, who would choose it? 


ruth haley barton

In a now famous UVA study, individuals who were kept in isolation with nothing to do except voluntarily receive a painful electric shock largely chose the shock over doing nothing. This study perfectly reflects the state of our culture today: being alone with ourselves is so uncomfortable that we would rather experience a painful outside stimulus than be left alone with ourselves. 


In this episode of Trinity Forum Conversations, author and spiritual director Ruth Haley Barton argues for the importance and the challenge of practicing the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude. 


Barton says that silence and solitude provide a unique and necessary space to hear the voice of the Lord, discern his will, and experience the love of God through his presence. When we fail to meet with him and set apart time to be quiet before him, our souls reflect the lack of communion with our Savior that we so desperately need.


However, solitude and silence are extremely challenging—both in terms of finding time to do it and psychologically speaking. Most of us are so unfamiliar with silence that it can be painful to sit in the presence of our pain, anxiety, fear, or disappointment. The emotions we suppress by staying busy reveal themselves in silence and solitude and the revelation can make the discipline even more difficult. But without silence and solitude, without addressing the chaos within, we limit our spiritual growth and the health of our souls.


Christian Union aims to form spiritually mature disciples whose spiritual disciplines reflect those of Jesus. Silence and solitude, getting away to be with the Lord on retreats, fasting, and reading Scripture regularly and in large quantities are all habits that Christian Union fosters in those who participate in its Universities and America ministries. By God’s grace, more and more Christians are coming to know and value the seeking God lifestyle that prioritizes spiritual disciplines and intimacy with Christ. 


Listen to the full episode here.