Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stop And Listen

This morning, I was busy.  It was one of those days where routine and time constraints and errands got the best of me, and I stopped listening. I stopped seeing what was going on around me because I was so wrapped up in myself and my plans. Do you ever find yourself in that place? I'm sorry to admit that I'm there a lot.

I had a plan for the day before I even got out of bed: today was grocery day. There were a couple stores I needed to visit, and a bunch of coupons I needed to find and clip out in order to find the best deal on the stuff I needed. And I had to get everything done and be back home in time for Cohen's afternoon nap. So after Cohen and I finished up breakfast, I let him play in the living room while I showered, got dressed, and settled down at the computer desk to gather my coupons.

I guess it was while I was sitting at the desk that I became aware of Cohen's whining. It was pretty incessant, and after a while he began to combine it with the equally frustrating climbing in my lap and pulling my arm. Didn't he know that we had a lot to do this morning, and I couldn't be bothered right now? So I tried to remedy the situation by doing one of those "mom things" that I look back on after the fact and shudder at: I tried to distract him. I gave him books, I asked him to bring me his animals, I tried to get him to sing a song. All the while, I never took my attention off my own task, and he never stopped whining.

After a while (and admittedly, after I had finished clipping my coupons), I focused my attention on Cohen and asked him what was wrong. Close to 15 minutes after I became aware that something was up, I finally decided to ask him about it. Someone pass me the Mom of the Year award. He  kept saying, "Car. Car." We were standing next to a pile of matchbox cars that he had emptied out of a box while I was busy ignoring him earlier, so I pointed to the mess and said, "Look, there are your cars." And then I walked away, congratulating myself for solving my child's problems.

The whining didn't stop.

Fast forward a few hours. We finished our grocery shopping and had eaten a nice lunch. Cohen and I returned home with full bellies, and I was very much anticipating nap time. I let him play in the living room while I unpacked the groceries, but after only a few minutes, he appeared at the baby gate in the kitchen doorway, whining. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, "Car. Car."

"Yes baby. Your cars are in there. Go play while I put these groceries up."

And then, something sort of snapped in my brain, and I said to myself, Something is wrong. Something is bothering Cohen. I need to stop what I am doing and focus my attention on him and fix the problem. So I put the package of juice boxes down and went into the living room and squatted down so I was eye level with Cohen. I asked him again what was wrong. Again, he said "Car. Car." We've already been through this. Go at it another way. I asked him to show me what was wrong, and off Cohen went, pointer finger leading the way. We stopped at the dog crate, and inside the crate was a single red toy truck that had fallen through the wire bars.

It was one of those forehead, meet palm moments as I finally understood what was so wrong all morning. Such an easily fixable problem if I had just taken a second to actually listen to my child. I opened the dog crate, pulled out the truck, and Cohen grabbed it and scurried away.

And at that moment, I knew God was speaking. How many times does He try to talk to me, try to get my attention, and I brush Him off because I'm so focused on myself? I'm afraid to even answer that question because I know it's a lot.

God doesn't speak to us through a loud, thunderous voice. He doesn't descend from a cloud or get right up in our faces or even announce Himself before He speaks. He doesn't say, "Erica, this is God talking." Lightening never strikes. The room doesn't grow hazy, and nothing illuminates. Although, sometimes I think that would be much easier. Instead, He whispers to my heart. Elijah called it a still, small voice, and sometimes it's just random thoughts that pop up in my head. And if I'm not in tune with God, if I'm not focusing on Him as I go about my day, if I'm too wrapped up in myself, I fail to recogonize Him. I dismiss His voice, and I go about my day. And I miss out on precious communion with the Lord.

How much He loves me to want to talk to me! What a gracious God He is to teach me lessons like the one He taught me today. To remind me to stop and listen. And how thankful I am that He could teach me so gently and through such an ordinary situation. 

Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness to me.

The video below is a clip from Dr. Charles Stanley that acted as a double-punch with the Lord's lesson today. If you have 5 minutes, I encourage you to watch it. If nothing else, I find it great parenting tool to use with my own child.

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