Wearing headphones is as common as wearing socks these days. Especially in big cities or on college campuses. With the increase in headphone users, there has been a greater interest in how these music-transmitting devices affect us. Just look at the latest studies (pedestrians wearing earbuds can put their lives at risk), scientific research (wearing earbuds can cause early hearing loss in young people), and Psychology Today articles (earbuds breed aural self-isolation).
But I’m not here today to discuss the physical or psychological harm that earbuds can do. I’m here to write about the damage that unchecked earbud wearing can cause spiritually.
That’s right. Earbuds (and constant noise in general) can be a major obstacle to spiritual growth.
You see, God often works in silence.
Just ask Elijah. While he was standing in a cave, hiding from Queen Jezebel’s assassins and feeling pretty lonely, he figured he needed a pretty loud sign from the Lord just to let him know He was there. But here’s what happened.
…[The Lord] said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
1 Kings 19:11-12
It’s pretty hard to hear that voice with the constant barrage of noise we face in today’s world. From listening to our favorite Spotify playlist on our Bluetooth speaker as we get in the shower, to watching our favorite morning news show, back to our iTunes playlist in the car, and then more music in the background as we work or go to and from class…many of us don’t make time for silence.
This observation is made in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet published by the Church:
If you listen to music constantly, you may not have the quiet time you need for thinking, feeling, and receiving spiritual guidance.
(For the Strength of Youth, 23)
Even good music can sometimes crowd out the Spirit or shift our focus. Remember, there’s no music during the sacrament ordinance administered each Sunday. The Church Handbook of Instructions states, “No music should be played during the sacrament prayer, while the sacrament is being passed, or as a postlude after the sacrament is passed” (Handbook 2: 14.4.4).
Why? Because this is the most sacred time of the week. This is the moment, of all moments, when we should take advantage of the silence and really commune with the Spirit.
But how much more meaningful would the sacrament be if we had practiced silence more frequently during the week.
How much more used to the Spirit’s “frequency” would we be if we “tuned in” more than once every seven days? Just a thought.
In The Screwtape Letters, a popular Christian novel by author C.S. Lewis, a character named Screwtape represents Satan and tries to lead good souls to his cause. Screwtape says, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” ‘Nuff said.
So back to the title of this article.
What does the extra noise of the world mean for those of us living in the last days?
Not only can extra or constant noise impede spiritual growth, but it can keep us from listening to the Spirit bear witness that perilous times are coming. Just as the 5 righteous virgins, we need to have our lamps full when the Savior comes as a “thief in the night.” It will be sudden, but if we are working daily to “tune in” to the frequency of the Spirit, we will know our Savior and recognize Him when He does come. And that’s definitely worth a little less iTunes and a little more silence each day.