I knew she was speaking to me. I could see her eyes fixed on me while her lips moved in an offering of words that apparently ended in a request. An hour later, when I found her doing something I wished her not to be doing, I called her on it.
And, of course, she stared blankly up at me, confused. Because, she nervously informed me, she had asked and I had given her permission. I felt myself shrink a little. What kind of mother looks at her child and ignores them while lamely offering a response to a question they don’t even hear?
That would be me. I’m that kind of mom. Are you? If not, please accept this as my tearful plea for guest post submissions on how you manage to avoid being that kind of mom. The rest of you can read on.
Because if we can’t even focus on the beautiful people in front of us long enough to hear what they’re saying and offer them a responsible, adult answer that may or may not save their lives (like that one time when I accidentally gave permission to one of my twins to use a kitchen knife and then found him in the backyard “dwopping a tree like Daddy”) how can we possibly expect to hear the whisper of God in the bustle of our days?
If we ever hope to learn, it’s going to have to be on purpose. You with me?
I’m going to back up and admit that I also believe it’s going to have to start by learning to tune into our kids. Or our husbands (or wives if you’re one of the rare but awesome men who dares to peek in around here). Or the sermon at church. Or all of the above and then some.
And the reason I believe so is because I think God often speaks most loudly through the people He puts before us. Don’t mistake me for saying prayer is not vital; hear me instead suggesting that praying without ceasing very likely involves looking for and listening to God as we encounter real life situations.
Which means it’s pretty important that I drag myself to His feet and ask Him to show me how to be present. To ask Him to help me be willing to respond when I want to recoil. To tune in when I want to zone out.
I feel like it may even be a little like adjusting the bunny ears on an old black and white tv set. Imagine with me for just a minute…
Your child comes to you while you’re sitting on the couch, enjoying a moment of nothingness. Your instinct is to guard your moment by not letting her fully break into it but your mom guilt prevents you from pretending you don’t see her at all. And so you fix her with glazed over eyes and give her one half of one ear. She begins to rattle off a request for a puppy and promises she’ll feed it without being reminded every day for the rest of her life and that she’ll even give up school in order to make time to properly train it. All you see is her lips moving and her mop of messy hair that you really need to remind her to brush but not just yet because that would make you guilty of breaking your own moment. And then your mind begins slipping to that book you’ve been wanting to read and how amazing it would be to melt some chocolate and dip strawberries into while reading, careful not to mess the pages but willing to lick them if you do.
Because we are learning to listen to God calling us to action. And when a child stands before you talking, you can’t honestly think the correct response is to tune them out, right? And so you heave a sigh of determination, reach up in His strength to tweak your attention antenna until the static turns to a sweet voice rambling on about puppies and potty training and nothing at all about strawberries or chocolate. And then you make the very brave and heroic decision to use the age-old distraction method and offer her chocolate-dipped strawberries instead of breaking her heart and screaming I DON’T EVEN LIKE DOGS!!
Okay, so I’m joking. Trying to make light of a hard situation. Because it’s no small thing to untrain ourselves from years of improper training. And it isn’t easy to create a new habit, but it is possible. And when it comes to walking in step with God, it’s also imperative.
The first step is a simple one and it is to make time to meet alone with Him. Because there is no relationship where time is not made. And remember, I said this was a simple step but not always an easy one. Time is froward and fleeting and fickle. It’s a force to be reckoned with and seemingly always in short supply or out of stock.
But I promise it multiplies when you use it for God. You just have to decide if you’re willing.
Did you catch today’s Bible Study on Hebrews 5? It’s all about the provision Christ made through HIs priesthood for the fallen and distracted. And it’s also a call to each heart to grow in grace and in truth…on purpose.