We know little about the first 30 years of Jesus’ life. History is mostly silent on the matter.
I sometimes ponder about the Jesus of his teens and 20s:
What did he do when he was a young adult? Did he do the work of his earthly father, Joseph? (A carpenter.) Or did he do the work of his Heavenly Father? What would that Heavenly work be, if he wasn’t preaching and teaching?
When he calls his first disciples in the gospels, was this his first attempt to call disciples? Or were these the first who said yes to his call?
At what point did Jesus realize he was special*? Was he a teen? Was he 22? Was he 29? (*I use the word “special” with purposeful ambiguity, as I shall write about the divinity and personhood of Jesus in more detail, in future posts.)
What we do know, is that when the gospels begin telling Jesus’ adulthood story, he has a strong sense of understanding about who he his.
The lesson here: Identity is often found in silence. Meditation, prayer, self-reflection, fasting, and detachment (among other “silent” activities) lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves. The silent times don’t make headlines, but it is in silence where we discover and formulate our individual identity, which then drives our outward actions.
When we begin to examine the recorded years of Jesus’ life, we see that he embraces these silent activities aforementioned as an adult as well. And quite often. And for many hours on length. The narratives of the four gospels make it quite clear that when he is not with the crowds, preaching and teaching, he is away, praying and meditating.
So, while we may be tempted to constantly hear noise and be in conversation with others, we need to remember that we can more deeply discover ourselves in silence.