A few of my family members suffer from “misophonia” – have you ever heard of it? Also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, it crops up when, for example, the sounds of other people eating – chewing, chomping, slurping or worse yet, scraping teeth over a fork or spoon – sends them into instantaneous, irrational frustration. Like fingernails on a chalkboard, these sounds really bother them to the point of distraction. Chewing gum loudly, crunching pop corn obnoxiously, even the erratic breathing of another can bring on an impatient response.
I’ve recently thought: what would spiritual misophonia look like?
I experience a mild-moderate case of it when I’m on a silent retreat and there are those present who consider it okay to talk on their cell phone in hallways or in the room next door. Or, when I’m trying to have a quiet time and a family member has the television on or they’re busy on the phone or attending to an activity in an adjacent room. It occurs when I enter a church minutes before the service begins and there’s laughter, chatter and banter…no prayerful preparation there. It can also happen when I’m praying and my own inner voices of concern, distraction or anxiety emerge, and I’m incapable of listening attentively for the still small voice of God. These erratic sounds during times of prayerful meditation can eat away at my soul…if I let them.
What will it take to overcome this spiritual condition?
Although not the only suggestion, but one that certainly merits full consideration, is very simply: trusting rest. “My soul finds rest in God alone” are 7 words that will change your life. When I make every effort to create spacious rest for my body, mind and soul, I do whatever it takes to silence all the sounds around and within me in order to find God alone. However, when I let other sounds interrupt and crowd out or negate the voice of God, I am letting the enemy of my soul carry the upper hand. Instead, even when sounds occur and seek to distract, I can choose to whisper those 7 simple words…my soul finds rest in God alone.
Saying no to external and internal voices is a good starting place. But even in shutting down those voices my soul can remain in a troubled state. My frustration can emerge which then feeds my spiritual pride. Instead, my longing is to be spiritually present amidst the sounds, and ideally absent from them, so that in my physical presence my soul can experience the richest of food…the living Word of God, the loving voice of God, the ever-presence of God, and the gentle leading of God. That’s what my soul longs for the most. What about you?
Behold God in wide-open, spacious places of rest…believe Christ’s promise to abide in you as you abide in Him…belong to the Spirit who resides within and around you…and, become fully released from your soul’s unwanted anxiety through the megaphone of spiritual misophonia. My soul finds rest in God alone.