by Terri Bonin
Crickets chirp lazily back and forth outside of our camping hut. It has been a full day. I’m plum tuckered out…You know, the kind of tiredness that makes it hard to answer the non-stop puzzling questions kids ask before bed. In order to quiet the crew, and usher in stillness, a carefully chosen audiobook fills the little room with a fantasy world to occupy their minds. But my well-laid plans don’t go so well. Lying on my back next to several little ones, I try to concentrate on the voice of the reader, but to no avail.
The beginning of the chapter stimulates my kids’ minds until they can no longer…
…bare the anticipation and the inquiries begin:
“Why did the king do THAT?”
“Will they find each other?”
“Is his mother going to die?”
The questions cover the reader and no one can hear anything but the voices in the room—layered talking—cluttered words–unclear chatter.
The audible story continues, oblivious to the chaos ensuing in the room.
I CANNOT make sense of the story OR of their questions because of the layers of voices clamoring in the hut.
“I missed it, mom. Can you tell me what happened?”
Sweet Mommy left her body about an hour ago and Impatient Mommy tries to hide.
Well of course you MISSED IT!! It’s hard to TALK and LISTEN AT THE SAME TIME!
Frustration rises in my chest.
“Stop. Talking,” I say crisper than I intended.
“LISTEN,” My voice sharpens.
“And. Your. Questions. Will. Be. Answered.”
No patient sweetness behind my clipped words.
Suddenly, *“Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” pops into my mind and the scripture bowls a strike proverbially knocking me down. The kids are guilty of the first part…talk, talk, talk, talk…no listening involved there…And I am QUICK to get frustrated and answer sharply, just a softer form of anger. Each of us needs to start over and I get to be the grown-up and lead by example.
My frustration turns to repentance and we start over altogether.
“Kids please forgive me for being impatient with you. If you all will listen quietly your questions will get answered as you listen. After it’s over we can discuss the story (if you’re not asleep), but we will have NOTHING to talk about if we can’t hear the reader. So let’s stop talking and listen,” I managed with more mommy and less monster.
The constant interruptions ceased and the audible book rolled on filling our minds with pictures and scenes that unfolded the answers the kids were seeking.
I wonder how many times I have prolonged my questions and anxiety because I would not shut my mouth long enough to hear the voice of the Lord during my time with Him. I sit down; open my Bible, read fast and journal faster…never slowing down long enough to HEAR HIM. He wants to speak to me…to give me instruction and simply to be my friend.
Again, the Lord kindly whispers directly to me through my parenting; my heavenly Father teaches me an important lesson as I walk through the same steps training my kids…but in His amazing God way.
He teaches me with a field trip that will stick with me.
Stop. Talking. And proactively Listen for His voice.
Lesson learned. Again.