Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Second lessons in listening... {One Word: listen}

{This year I'm posting once a month on my One Word for 2014: listen.  To read January's post in this series, click here.}

So… this whole One Word: listen thing for 2014?  Well, January started off with a bang.  

February?  Um… not so much.

Want the truth?  Ok.  Here it is.  That still, small Voice I was so attuned to at the beginning of 2014?  I’m embarrassed to say, I effectively turned off my ears for the last half of January.  

I clutched and finagled little pockets of time for myself, obsessed over blog schedules no one cares about but me, compared myself incessantly to all and sundry, and dissolved into petulant tears because the whole world was unsupportive of “my” art.  I whined incessantly about not having time for myself, and resented the demands of my roles as mother and homemaker.  

In a nutshell, I succumbed to my old demons of control and insecurity.  It’s been ugly.  

Have I been listening?  Not much.  

Should I have been listening?  

Um… definitely.  

Because when I started listening again (sometime around the end of last week), I started hearing again.  

This week, thanks to some quiet, calm direction from the ever-pragmatic and focused Kat Lee, I finally managed to a) go to bed a little earlier, b) get up a little earlier, and c) quiet my thoughts enough in the mornings so my heart could tune back in to that all-wise, still, small Voice.  

And finally I heard what He’s been trying to say to me for a while…

Let.   It.   Go.    Let go of your needs, your agenda, your desires.  Give them to Me, and I’ll take care of you.  Trust Me to further your art and your dreams, and you focus on looking after the people I’ve given you to love.

(Ok, if I’m completely honest, I have to admit that I heard Someone whispering that in the inner depths of my soul, but because of my self-centeredness it sounded like someone speaking on the other side of a glass window, muffled and burbly, and all I had to do was turn my face away so I “couldn't” understand what He was saying…)

So, here’s what February's teaching me:

Lesson #1: 
When I’m consumed with myself, I can’t hear anything properly.

As long as my thoughts are filled with my agenda, my goals, my dreams, my needs, there’s no space for anyone else to say anything, especially God.  The needs of my family become a burden, and I stop serving out of love and start doing it out of duty, which quickly fills me with resentment.  

The challenge for me is to open my hands, let go of my own needs and wants, and re-surrender to God’s plan for my day.

And what I’m discovering is, once I finally lay my agenda on the altar and tune in to God’s Voice, He meets my needs!  He shows me little pockets of time to make art, or He frees me to just take a nap and stop pushing myself so hard, or He helps me be content with the art I’ve already made and dissolves the pressure I put on myself to constantly make something new.

Lesson #2:
Complaining clogs my ears.  Thanking re-opens them.  

Focusing on all the things I’m not happy about is like turning down the volume on God’s voice so I can’t hear Him or sense He’s with me.  Thanking Him for the gifts He’s giving in that moment suddenly re-opens my ears and swivels up the volume, and His voice becomes audible in my heart again.   

I’ve realized that complaining is just general flailing in the direction of the Universe, or at anyone who happens to be listening (usually my patient husband).  Thanking implies you have Someone to thank, so you’re talking to Someone, so there’s actually Someone there, and maybe that Someone has something to say back to you… 

One of the best quotes I’ve heard (I wish my fragmented Mommy brain could remember the source):

“If you are complaining, it means you are believing one of two lies: Either God is not good, or God is not loving.”   

The act of giving thanks immediately turns my eyes away from myself to God’s Presence in that moment.  And right away, I feel more peaceful.  

What keeps you from hearing God’s voice throughout your day?

In what small (or big!) ways is God already using your word for 2014 to change and grow you?


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