Listening, not listening and God-given opportunities

January 7, 2016

My husband and I have selected a “word for the year” the past few years.  Hospitality was our word in 2014; discipline was 2015’s choice.  While it’s easy to focus on the times we weren’t hosting people in our home, or the times we  weren’t disciplined, I think we made progress each year.

Our word this year is listen. Our main objective is to really hear what God is saying to us and to genuinely hear each other.  Our daughter Caitlyn cautioned me saying, “Be careful you don’t use the word against each other, as in, ‘Our word for this year is listen, but you’re not listening to me!'”

I laughed, but shouldn’t have.  I wanted to say THAT EXACT SENTENCE to him yesterday. Because she had cautioned me, I held my tongue. (Does that count in the “Yay, me!” column for discipline?)

So here’s what happened. I’ve been talking about/struggling with/thinking I need to change my approach as a writer — maybe move toward a more specific type of writing. Well, that seems vague. (Because it is.)

Let me put it out there.  I’ve been thinking about writing curriculum. I don’t know exactly what that means, but it seems like it would be a good fit for me since I like to research and teach.

Yesterday, over lunch with a friend, I was presented with an opportunity to write curriculum for a Bible study on THE VERY BOOK OF THE BIBLE I AM COMPLETELY SMITTEN WITH RIGHT NOW. (Or maybe I brought up the possibility of writing it. I really can’t remember now. I’ll ask my friend and get back to you on that.) (But either way, an opportunity existed after lunch that wasn’t there before lunch.) (I’m glad we got that straightened out.)

I was excited as all get out to share this news with Gary, who happens to be one of my biggest writing fans.  January means “busy season” has already started, so I didn’t call him with the news. I patiently waited and then told him over dinner.

Gary is distracted in January. It may have something to do with the fact that he’s a CPA (hence, busy season), most of his business clients are closing their fiscal years, people are wanting returns amended, his firm’s phone is ringing off the hook and he’s already working more hours than he was just a week ago. Oh, and there’s something about China and the stock market tanking…  All this to say, one of us was more excited than the other one about the conversation. In fact, I really don’t think Gary was fully processing what I was telling him. He wasn’t listening in a way to really hear what I was sharing.

As I’ve thought over yesterday’s scenario, I’ve realized a few things about listening.

First, I (painfully) have to admit that while I notice nearly every time he doesn’t seem to listen to me, I’m barely aware of the times I don’t listen to him. (Probably because I didn’t listen.) And if he brings it to my attention, I can usually justify it, even if the justification isn’t valid. Like a two year old with her mama’s lipstick all over her face, I’ll deny not hearing him, or come up with SOME REASON why it’s okay I didn’t listen. But the truth is, it is NOT okay for me to not listen to him.

Second, I need to recognize distraction and and not label it something else. I was looking for affirmation from Gary that, (1) this opportunity was given by a friend, but probably orchestrated by God, and (2) I should accept the challenge.  I (incorrectly) interpreted his disengagement as doubting my ability to write the study, which immediately led to my doubting myself. Honestly, that’s an easy jump for me. Since I already tend to doubt myself, any little hesitation from someone else can cause me to throw in the towel. It’s a gift I have. 🙂

Third, developing my ability to hear GOD IS REALLY  IMPORTANT. Feeling Gary’s support is really nice, but IF God is orchestrating this turn of events, I need to do it no matter what. And honestly, while I told my friend I’d “pray about it,” I’m pretty sure I already have my answer. Looking back over my journal, I can see the conversation with God has been going on for awhile. And this opportunity is more of a period than a question mark.

Apparently Gary and I chose well when we selected the word listen. It’s only January 7, and we already have a “teaching moment” under our belts. I’m really hoping I’ll put into practice the lessons I learned. I think Gary’s hoping that, too.

 

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