I am not an aural learner and if I listen to something, I do better if I’m able to read along or see visuals to help understanding.
We all have a fundamental need to be heard.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak… James 1:19b
This. why I’m writing this post at 9 PM the night before it’s due.
Alex demanded for about half an hour for me to lay with him and watch a show on the iPad. So, I rushed through helping Tori organize her cold weather clothes in her drawers so I could oblige.
He snuggles up and lays his head on my squishy tummy. He strokes the back of my hand. Then he pinches my knuckle, which means I’m supposed to rub his back. He puckers up for a kiss, all while watching his show on the iPad.
I realize that these moments are fleeting.
While I formulate in my mind what I need to write, review, plan, clean, organize…I need to be present with my baby boy.
That is servant leadership. The dishes can wait. The books and Netflix DVDs on my desk aren’t that important. Social media will not blow up without my being there to share.
After a few minutes, I had two cats and two daughters in the room too. They long to be near. After cleaning up the garden (since it’s due to frost tonight), my husband joined us.
It was beautiful. I felt God smile.
Shouldn’t we long to be close to our Daddy God too? Like our children long to be in our presence, shouldn’t we seek His? And by drawing nearer to Him, we draw our children closer to Him.
I need to set the example for my children. Where I lead, they will follow. Do I want to lead them down a trail of busyness and worthless pursuits? Or do I want to lead them in paths of righteousness?
We have a Siamese cat. She still looks like a kitten after two years. She is darling. When I first acquired her, she was skittish and unfriendly. She didn’t seem to hear well and seldom allowed us to pet her for very long.
For the first 6-9 months, she would wet my bed. My lovely comforter is raggedy and has a hole in a corner from so many washings. We couldn’t figure out her triggers. The litter boxes were spotless. I was diligent with clean water and plenty of food. The vet was no help without catheterizing her since she wouldn’t urinate on command for a sample.
I think she was stressed by the noise of four children and our adult cat. It was a very different environment for her. She is naturally shy and perhaps she wasn’t treated so well before we adopted her. I think she was the runt.
I am ashamed to say that we considered finding a new home for her.
I prayed. For my cat. Yes, I did. I prayed that God would help. That He would give me answers. Selfishly, that He would save my bed comforter.
Then, miraculously, it stopped. Either she outgrew it or suddenly got comfortable in her surroundings or learned to trust us…or God answered my prayer…it just ended. She became a happy, loving, talkative cat. She now seeks us out and demands attention.
Now, how often do we get frustrated with our children’s behaviors? How often do we lash out in anger at our children – simply for acting like kids? Don’t we punish instead of instructing in love, instead of heart training, taking the time to disciple so our children learn The Way instead of The World.
What if we thought of our kids as an ill-trained runt of an animal? But, don’t you sometimes think that way? I’m ashamed that I have.
Do we pray for and with our kids as often as we should? More than the meal time recitations and the bedtime “Now I lay me down to sleeps”?
How often do I push my kids away because I’m “busy” instead of reaching to bring them in close and smell them and show them how much they’re worth to me? I need to show them that they’re worth more than the empty words on a computer screen.
I need to listen.
I need to listen to what they’re really saying. Their words, actions, heartcries for attention. Instead of just hearing defiance in a tone, I need to listen to the hurt in my daughter’s voice that I didn’t fill her love tank in the way that made her feel loved. Instead of reacting to the tantrum my son has, I need to listen to his desire for food or a hug. Instead of hearing the disrespect in my daughters’ flippant comment, I need to listen to their confusion over a math problem or multi-step instruction.
I pray that I listen and not react. I pray that I am present. I pray that my heart is open to their needs and I am a servant to my family. I pray that I disciple them and train their hearts to seek after Jesus despite the crashing cymbals of the world’s temptations and even the compromises of the church.
What do I want them to remember? Do I want Kate to remember that I dropped everything to play Uno with her? Do I want Alex to remember that I dropped everything to see him dance? Do I want Tori to remember that I dropped everything to watch her ride her bike? Do I want Liz to remember that I dropped everything to listen to her read a funny quote from a book she’s reading?
I don’t want their memories of childhood to be that their mama sat at a computer day in and day out, too busy to see or listen to them being who God meant them to be.
I want them to look back and remember a mama who was present and fun and prayed and laughed and played games and took time to be silly. A mama who listened.
shhhh. Listen. Do you hear it?
That’s the sound of God smiling.
Children are not cats.
But wouldn’t it be nice if children could be toilet-trained at 6 weeks like kittens are trained to litter boxes? That would sure simplify life!