There’s never a quiet moment in my house. I wash dishes while listening to my daughter sing her memory verses. I grade assignments while Daniel Tiger plays in the background. I write this to the soundtrack of my son’s white noise machine broadcasting through the baby monitor. Even when there’s a quiet moment, I often fill it with another podcast or a phone call or the new Taylor Swift album. There is little time for silence in my life.
It’s hard to hear with all the noise. The roaring oven vent dispelling smoke from burning chicken overpowers my daughter’s cries for help on the potty. My headphones tune out my son’s cooing in his crib during a Zoom call. The voice of the Holy Spirit is overwhelmed by the constant stream of voices coming from my phone’s speaker.
I love podcasts. It’s one of the first apps I open every morning—queuing up my shows for that day. There’s one recapping the news, one expounding on theology, and another sharing encouragement for mothers. My ears are itching to hear what wisdom they have to give me that day.
These voices have strengthened my faith over the years. They filled up lonely spaces during postpartum and pandemic months. They have connected me with other people who have different perspectives than mine. They have taught me things about God and his Word. But as with chocolate and social media, you can have too much of a good thing.
When my ears are more eager to hear my favorite podcast host than the Word of God, then podcasts are no longer an edifying tool; they are a distracting idol. They reveal my desire for escape, comfort, and self-reliance. Rather than the internal change the voice of the Spirit prompts, for me, podcasts can easily become a source of external tips and tricks—quick tidbits of knowledge I can throw in a group chat.
These voices are important. I love how podcasts make a way for everyday people to bring their stories and experiences to listeners. But they are not the most important voice.
I first began the practice of fasting during Lent two years ago (read more about my prayer for Lent here). The purpose of “giving up” something for Lent is not to restrict ourselves of that which is bad or unhelpful. Traditionally, the church would fast from food during Lent—something that is both good and necessary for life! No, instead, we fast from that which may be physically good for us to feast upon the goodness of God. The physical hunger pains we feel are meant to remind us to spiritually hunger after God and his Word.
This year, as I prayed through what “good” thing I should fast from during the forty days of Lent, I began to see a lack of space in my life to feast in God’s presence. I was multi-tasking every moment of my day. Doing dishes while I fed my children breakfast. Grocery shopping on my phone while I nursed. Writing essays while helping my daughter with a craft.
Listening to a podcast while doing, well, anything.
I began to see a pattern of filling my day so full that I didn’t leave room for silence or stillness to hear God speak. I would try to make the most of every moment by listening to another podcast—learn one more thing, connect with one more voice, stay updated on the news. But in my effort to fill my mind with podcasts, I was not leaving room for my heart and mind to feast on the Word of God and respond to the Spirit of God.
So for this Lenten season, I fasted from podcasts.
For forty days, I got ready in silence—praying for the circumstances I would face throughout my day. I listened to my memory verses as I drove down the road—embedding the Word of God into my heart and mind. I talked with my toddler daughter as I prepared dinner—making the most of opportunities to share gospel truths with her. I sang hymns as I nursed—letting beautiful lyrics sow seeds of truth into my son’s heart.
Slowly, I felt my soul relax. Instead of feeling like I needed to learn something new, I rejoiced in the all-knowing God who guides my steps. Instead of keeping up with the news, I rested in the sovereignty of my good God. Instead of hearing another voice tell me what to think, I submitted my thoughts to Christ. I prayed more, meditated on Scripture more, and let myself be still more.
I wasn’t perfect at letting the silence linger, but in the moments where I didn’t rush to fill the quiet pockets of my day, I was able to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart, the Word of Christ dwell in me richly, and the purpose of Christ empower my every word and deed (Colossians 3:15-17). I was able to truly abide in him, and those moments of silent abiding bore much fruit in my life.
The season of Lent ended this past Sunday, so I click the purple icon ready to see the latest episode of my favorite podcast. I hesitate, and instead, my finger swipes to the left and opens another app. I slip in my earbuds as I get ready for the day and the sound of Scripture fills my ears. There’s no catchy jingle, no funny banter or interesting dialogue. But it is the Word of God, living and active, piercing me deeper than any podcast ever could.
I still plan to catch up on my favorite podcasts that I missed last month (Risen Motherhood, Knowing Faith, and Journeywomen to name a few). But I’m not afraid of falling behind on my favorite show and missing their content. I don’t believe the lie that I must multi-task, filling my mind every time my hands are busy at work. I don’t find my greatest comfort and wisdom in the voices broadcast through my podcast app.
And so my Lenten fast has fulfilled its purpose. As I queue up my podcasts for today, I do so with a greater hunger for God’s voice than any voice in this world.