Spiritual Misophonia


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.


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.