I've been saying I want to be a better listener for a long time. In fact, I was going through some of my old journals from 2006 and 2008 and that was on the top of my "to be" list. My to be list is just that..a list of things I want to be.
I haven't posted in awhile for two reasons:
1. I've been enjoying visitors - expected ones like my friend Emily, who stayed with
me for a few days and unexpected ones, those two or three who just happen to
show up and stay for a few hours. I've been listening to God through both kinds.
2. I've been busy renewing my mind. I realize that renewing your mind takes a lot of
effort, time and energy. To be able to change the way you think about your life and
plans is psychologically exhausting, but well worth the effort if it's because you
want to be obedient to God's plans.
I decided to look up the Greek word for listen and I discovered a curious thing. First, the word listen wasn't prevalent in the ancient world - the correct word, hear, shows up in the Bible A LOT!
Another curious thing is that in both the old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek, the words for hear used most often are: sama (Hebrew) and akouo (Greek). They mean understanding AND obedience. Together - those two words make up the one word.
Understanding and Obedience go hand in hand and I guess it makes sense in the context of the Bible. We are not just to hear God's word, but hear and obey. Here are two scriptures in James, related to listening:
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." James 1:19-20
"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves." James 1:22
In the past two weeks, God's shown me that I've not been a very good listener. He showed me in the most painful and humbling way possible, through my children. He's shown me that I don't spend enough time listening to my children. Two of them have mentioned a need or a problem and I, in my adult wisdom, have blown them off. I'll give you a great example from my 9-year old son, "Spike".
He's one of those boys who's constantly on the move. He's quick with an idea, or a plan, and loves a good joke or prank. He moves so fast, I have to workout in order to keep up with him. This year, he's had a lot of trouble in school. He keeps forgetting things, is disorganized, and can't stay in his seat. Some of those things are typical for a 9-year old boy, but that doesn't matter to his teachers because it's causing problems in their classrooms.
He also forgets things at home: forgets to turn the lights off when he leaves the room, forgets to pick up after himself and to bring his homework home, etc. He's said repeatedly, "Mom, I have short term memory loss!" My husband and I respond in a similar fashion, "You're full of it."
I've spent the last 14 years being manipulated by various children, and both he and I were manipulators as kids...so we know a thing or two about this.
Two weeks ago, I took Spike for a psychological and educational assessment so we can get a handle on his behavioral problems. And to be honest, I was there to get the necessary "ADHD Label" which apparently is required in order for certain teachers to be compassionate toward people who learn differently (more on this later).
The tests didn't reveal much I didn't already know....yes, Spike is classically ADHD - for those of you who know him, that won't come as a surprise. What I also learned is that he has a problem with verbal short term memory.
Humbled is the only word I can use to describe how I felt when I found out.
VINDICATED is how my son felt.
The last time I wrote a post like this regarding my children, one of my friends called me to offer support and encouragement. I thanked God for her wisdom and friendship. However, I assure you that these posts are not to beat myself up:)
They're to say that I believe we instinctively know ourselves and can know ourselves at an early age. From what I can tell, it's the adults and life's circumstances that clobber our intuition out of us.
How many of us, as adults, are now following childhood dreams? I know I am!
I also believe that in order to tune into God and hear what He's trying to tell us, we have to be willing to listen with open hearts and minds and to others who may not appear to be so "wise."