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Listening

“Mom, mom, mom…”

imagine the above phrase in a calm tone…it’s mellow, right?

now imagine it in a loud, freaking out, excited-hear-me-now-or-i-will-implode-explode-tone.

just imagine.

pretty nerve wrecking, right? words like: frustrating, irritated, annoyed, etc. might come to mind and create sudden facial ticks resembling The Hulk in a lot of people.

now, imagine it with 6 children 20 times per hour for about 16 hours in a single day.

it’s challenging.

when this is happening to me, i think…okay, i can overreact and turn into The Hulk or be the peaceful and mild-mannered Bruce Banner. you wanna know what happens? well, if i remember, i pray. if i don’t remember to pray, well, you probably saw the movie…anyways…

kidding aside, the more my children experience this dialectic stage…where they connect and critique ideas — asking questions to clarify every bit of information that crosses their craniums by discussing, analyzing, debating, verbally exploring and sharing them in various tones and body languages…the more i’m learning how important it is to just listen.

listening is difficult.

have you ever looked up the word? definitions are extremely important. here it is:

“to give attention to someone or something in order to hear him, her, or it” -Cambridge English Dictionary.

i often find myself trailing off in a maze of self-absorbed thoughts ready to retort: “here’s my advice”, or “i wouldn’t do or think that”, “i know…been there, done that” when all i’m called to do is just listen. listening is an action, like love. in fact, listening is a great fraction of love. here’s what the poet, Alice Duer Miller, said about listening:

“Listening is not merely not talking, though even that is beyond most of our powers; it means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us. You can listen like a blank wall or like a splendid auditorium where every sound comes back fuller and richer.”

imagine the beauty of being present, the rewards of giving time to a relationship. when I am patient and mindful of my actions to fully honor my husband, my children, my friends and family with the gift of listening, the reward is exceptional — the speaker is bonded to you, they are understood, and they feel validated. even though you may not agree with them, even though they did not ask for your expertly-age-defying wisdom, and even though they will probably change their ideas tomorrow — the gift of listening is a treasure to the receiver and to the giver.

when I am not patient and mindful of my actions towards every and all peoples, and I don’t honor others before myself, well, i’m just smashing…in a Hulkish sort of way. pray for me!

Are You Willing?

Since this is a day devoted to love, I thought I’d share the definition of love found in the Bible:

This beautiful description of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in the New Living Translation. 

I’d also like to share that I fail in every single definition of love. 

Because even with the knowledge of this verse, I do the very opposite.  It pains me to be imperfection to my husband, children, family, friends, and even strangers… who deserve more than my tolerance is able.

And still, it is by the grace of God that I am given the millionth opportunity to keep trying to love.  And it is with God that I will succeed to love.  Because NOTHING is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) And God is ABLE to make all grace abound towards me…(2 Corinthians 9:8)!

Here’s the verse:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

“Love is patient and kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

It does not demand its own way.

It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 

Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless.

But love will last forever!”

I love that last line…Love will last forever!  It makes me so excited and encouraged to love more!  And yet, the line…It is not irritable…is really not my best line. In fact, it is my constant error in my mission to love.

You see, it’s not necessarily the children or my husband or family or strangers that provide me with situations to get irritated…it’s really my own inexperience in handling trying situations.

Here’s an example:

So, I’m trying to teach the Bohr Diagram to my son who is questioning the authenticity of the electron configuration for atoms, the phone rings, my child screams: “I’mmmmm dooooone!”, I know that we have to get ready and out of the house in an hour for archery, the other two children are not having a sharing moment, I step on one of those pointy-I’m-in-need-of-surgery-now lego pieces on my way to answer the phone. Now while I’m wiping my youngest child in the bathroom on the phone with someone who wants to schedule a job with my husband right now, the sharing moment turns out into a tattling frenzy of who hit who first…it does go on…believe me.

My experience as this situation is presented to me is usually to fail in the department of love.

I get heated, literally. Hot flashes are starting in my underarms and working their way to my head. I tend to feel confused, and then another situation of irritation presents itself on top of what I’m already trying to deal with, and my irritability ensues. How do I fend for my own inexperience?

Well, I’ve learned one of the solutions out there is smiling. Because smiling produces endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Working together they naturally make us feel good. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood for the better! Smiling also lowers your blood pressure! Plus, smiling doesn’t make you look or sound so scary anymore!

It’s simple, but it’s really difficult to do. Try it! It’s a start!

It’s going to be a challenge!

But I’m willing for my character to grow out of it’s rusty shell, and bloom with traits that are as beautiful as lilies and roses and orchids – creating a garden of love! Imagine if everyone was challenged to love and live out this verse!

On this day, and hopefully everyday we live, may we try to remember, with softened hearts, to be willing to act and live out the meaning of love.

It’s a challenge!

Are you willing?