I’ve always prided myself on being a good listener.
Especially with my children…
I’ve listened to stories about my toddlers’ imaginary friends.
I’ve listened to replays of stolen bases, double plays, and switch-hitting.
I’ve listened as sobbing teens shared their heartaches and heartthrobs.
It’s all just part of the Mommy resume.
Sometimes, that’s a whole different story.
Sometimes hearing is scary.
Sometimes hearing throws into confusion my neat, tidy life.
Sometimes, hearing hurts my heart.
But, just like listening…
It’s a vital part of my Mommy resume.
I had to stop, slow down, and do some hearing this summer.
For months, my sixteen-year old son had been mentioning Christian school. He’d been dropping hints at the dinner table, highlighting benefits in the car, initiating school-centered conversation at bedtime. He was desperately trying to get me to hear, and quite frankly, I wasn’t even willing to listen.
To be honest, every time he brought up the subject, I shut him down. His father and I told him NO! We just weren’t interested in having that conversation.
I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but My Feelings Were Hurt! Every time he mentioned school, all I heard was rejection and failure.
I turned his desire for something different into a referendum on me, my mothering, and our relationship.
I refused to listen because I was afraid of what I might hear.
In August, Stephen went away to camp. I knew he’d come back challenged in his relationship with Christ and I was excited for him. What I didn’t realize was that God would use that week to challenge me, as well.
For that entire week, God meddled and poked at my heart. He prodded and pried in my thought life. He shuffled and shifted my thinking until I was ready to recognize my pride.
You see, that’s really what it all came down to… My pride was hurt and I was responding poorly. I was allowing my pride to shut down the communication that my son so deeply desired.
Oh I was communicating all right! I was communicating that my pride was more important to me than my son.
I was crushed, and ashamed, and ready to repent! God had finally unstopped my ears and I wasn’t just ready to listen; I desperately wanted to hear!
What a difference my God-opened ears made.
I was finally able to hear my son’s heart… The heart of an extremely social boy who was feeling lost and lonely.
Honestly, I felt as though I was listening to his father at the same age. Steve’s friends had been the push he needed to succeed in school. Their encouragement had been key to his growth.
Stephen Jr. has that same type of friends. He finds strength, accountability, and community within his group. They’ve laughed together, wrestled together, and cried and prayed together.
And, they all spend every day together,… All of them, that is, except Stephen. He was at home feeling isolated and insulated and alone.
We were keeping him home, but we weren’t there enough ourselves. Increased demands of the ministry were keeping us too busy, too distracted, and too distant to fulfill the needs of a relationally needy boy.
When I took the time to truly hear, I realized just how much Stephen needed me to just be his mother, and how often my tight schedule forced me instead into the role of his teacher and taskmaster.
He wasn’t rejecting me, he was trying to reestablish and reorient our relationship!
And, that’s exactly what’s happened.
For the first time in 23 years, I have a child in school. I’m attending parent’s meetings, driving in the carpool line, and buying gym uniforms. It’s a new paradigm for me and quite frankly, at times it feels scary and strange.
But it’s reaped huge benefits with my son. Our time together is more relaxed and relational. We’re laughing and playing games again, instead of correcting math, debating assignments, and filling in the log.
I’m still homeschooling my youngest son and our one-on-one time is really special. Maybe it’s the best of both worlds?
Which brings me to a question…
How are your ears?
Are you listening deeply to those loved ones in your home?
Are you, in fact, hearing what they say?
Hearing what excites, scares, motivates, or overwhelms them?
Hearing their heart?
When we hear their hearts, we’ll win their trust!
When we hear their hearts, we’ll understand their needs!
When we hear their hearts, we’ll be freed to love them unconditionally!
Don’t let pride, fear, or stubbornness clog your ears. Ask God to open those ears and prepare your heart… You may be surprised at what He has for you to hear!