Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Limited Listening

My husband is on another continent.  That means I have to accept that I can't actually do it all.  I can do my chores and Jared's.  I can accept help from others for times when I need to leave my kids (meetings, Bible study, etc.).  I can keep up with laundry and dishes.  I can study my Sunday school lesson for this Sunday. 

But some stuff falls through the larger-than-usual cracks.  Dinners are not very creative.  Every surface in my house needs to be wiped (preferably with disinfecting wipes).  My hair is reminiscent of a mangy poodle.  I probably won't complete my Bible study homework this week.

That's okay.  I'm trying to take care of things that fall into certain categories:  school, church, health, safety, hygiene.  Sometimes other stuff has to wait.

And I think blogging this week falls into the category of "has to wait."  So rather than giving you nothing but silence for a week (or more), I decided to post something I've previously written.

Before I started a blog, writing was already in my blood.  Sometimes I would just sit and type into a Word document.  Sometimes it was to mark an occasion or capture a memory.  Sometimes it was to organize my thoughts.  Many of these random writings are deeply personal, but I found one that I wouldn't mind sharing. 

It's a little long, but you've got plenty of time to read it since I probably won't be able to write again this week. :)

I forgot to date this particular document, but I know it was written some time last school year (because I mentioned that Nolan was in kindergarten).  Enjoy!
Limited Listening
                I used to have this roadblock to my prayer.  I desperately wanted to be a prayer warrior, to know that God’s power was unleashed when I prayed.  I wanted to be one of those women who talks to God like he’s her daddy or her best friend.  But I just had this obstacle.  And the obstacle was this:  if God is all-knowing, then why do I need to tell him what’s going on and what I want him to do about it?
                I talked to my husband about this mental block.  He did his best to explain it to me, but I still struggled.  I was afraid to really discuss the extent of my struggle with my Bible study group because I didn’t want them to know that I was a long-time Christian who still didn’t understand the purpose of prayer.  I prayed and asked God to help me understand prayer.  And still I struggled.
                I recently read the book The Shack by WM. Paul Young.  In the book Young characterizes the trinity of God in three distinctly different but divinely connected human forms.  In one scene, the main character is sitting at a dinner table talking to the human forms of God.  God asks the main character about his children and wife.  The man instinctively reacts as any parent would and begins talking about his precious children and his lovely wife.  Then he interrupts himself and asks why God would even ask him about his family when God already knows everything about them.  God teaches the man about ways in which God chooses to limit himself for our sake. 
                God says that he chooses to limit himself out of respect for this man, in order to facilitate and honor their relationship.  He says that he chooses not to “bring to mind” his knowledge of these family members while the man is talking, and he takes great delight in seeing them through the man’s eyes.  He goes on to talk about power in relationships and how we can nurture relationships by choosing to limit ourselves to serve the other person.
                This example has been coming to mind lately as I’m striving to have a closer relationship with God.  I know that prayer is my communication with God, and I can’t have a good relationship without communication.  This description may be from a fictional book, but it helps my human mind to better understand that I’m not wasting God’s time by telling him stuff he already knows. 
                It finally clicked for me when I was thinking about my interactions with my oldest son, who is now is kindergarten.  He learns so much each day at school.  All the time he will randomly declare some fact that he learned at school.  I am amazed as he says, “Hey, that’s a compound word!” and even uses hand motions to show me how to break down and then rejoin the parts of a compound word.  He tells me new words he has learned how to spell and how to use different punctuation marks.  I don’t respond to him by gruffly telling him that I already know all these things.  I don’t remind him of how much older and wiser I am.  I stop and listen and marvel at his growing wealth of knowledge.  I light up as I realize that my precious child is capable of grasping all these new concepts.  When he tells me detailed stories of mundane happenings in his little world, I stare at the soft curves of his face and study the way his mouth moves when he is talking.
                When he tells me things that I already know, I listen and enjoy spending time with my child.  I think I can finally start to understand the analogy between me as a human parent and God as my heavenly Father.  He doesn’t mind that he already knows what I’m telling him.  He delights in seeing me learn.  He marvels at his creation, and he enjoys spending time with his child.
I'm sure many of you can relate.  I have such a horrible memory, and I know I end up telling people things I've already told them.  Sometimes people just tell me I've already told them, but I know there are lots of times when people graciously listen again as if they don't already know what I'm going to say.  It's the same concept in an everyday format.

Have a great week!


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