A Sacred Silence: How Witholding Words Helped Me Heal

by Grace Pike March 27, 2024

In the past, God used trials to refine both my soul and my art. Regardless of the darkness faced, processing with the Lord birthed poems and words. I often turned to the Psalms, with their patterns of lament, repentance, and praise. So, it shocked me when the pattern shattered, and Psalm 88:18’s final words permeated my every attempt at penning something private or public:

“You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.”

As a new believer, I was eager to write down every prayer and thought, hopeful for the future. I went through journals frequently, then enjoyed looking back over the entries to help me reflect on God’s sovereignty and grace. Now my favorite journal now contains entries from 2022, 2023, and 2024 because, despite my desire to fill its pages as I did in the past, the words eluded me.

At some point, watching people vanish from the polaroids within its pages and seeing color fade from the record of my world became too painful. What once felt like a safe place to meditate on the Lord and spend time in prayer suddenly felt unbearable–perhaps melancholy at best.

Trying to push through this in my personal journal was one thing, but wanting to keep producing content in the public sphere was another. At the time, I worked for a seminary, was in conversations about a doctoral degree, and served as an Associate Editor for FTC.co. The expectations I set for myself demanded I keep producing content, but it all sounded… flat.

Unfortunately, something in me was broken. And it did not take long to realize it was different from pain I had encountered before. For the first time, it was ineffable.

At first I was frustrated. Christians throughout history had gone through much harder things and yet glorified God through their writings. Could I not be one of them?

The answer was no; I could not. At least not at that point in my life. I soon discovered that though it still brought joy to serve as an editor or help others share stories of God’s grace, the writing goals I had upheld during the past decade of following Jesus were no longer possible. (Well, they were possible. They were just no longer healthy or helpful.)

So, despite the pain, I would continue to love Jesus. But I would do so in a season of silence.

As the days turned into months without my usual outpouring of written expressions, I discovered a richness in the unspoken dialogue between my soul and its Creator. The silence became the canvas on which God once again brought color to my world with strokes of truth, and I found solace in the simplicity of just being with Him.

This newfound, intentional spiritual discipline led to a realization that I had unintentionally made an idol out of communication. My good desire to cultivate community and encourage others had soured the moment I began prioritizing conversations with friends or processing through a publication above time in the Word. In the hushed moments with Scripture, God gifted a sacred silence that spoke volumes.

Instead of rushing to theologize every emotion and struggle, I started to relearn how to sit in the presence of the One who understands without words. This quiet communion with the Lord rested like a healing balm upon my weary soul. Not every healing requires a public proclamation, and sometimes the deepest work happens in secret places, away from the eyes and ears of the world.

So, here I am, a writer who found healing in not writing but in withholding. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything, including “a time to keep quiet, and a time to speak” (v. 7). How sweet it is to stop striving and rest in God’s grace for each moment–whether our lips are parted to share truth with others or just to drink it in for ourselves. And though my journal still awaits fresh ink, I know there is a never-ending well of grace still flowing despite the dry pages.