The Sound of My Own Voice:)

When I talk with a dear friend about what’s on my heart, I am often surprised by the sound of my own voice in an atmosphere of honest communion. As I returned to the week my mama died, I let out some frustration and found that I was hanging on to something I needed to release. I also realized my selfish need for the world of others to stop when mine does. It cannot, and I’m thankful God helped me see that this week. In fact, He made it clear that the world doesn’t ever stop. It brings me to my knees when it spins out of control, and it puts me flat on my face when I try to stop it. When I look up and remember Whose world it is and Whose child I am, I find the balance I need to walk and love in His kingdom here and now.

Yesterday was a fourteen hour day with the girls, and my patience wore thin as Lillyann refused to put away her Kindle, go to the bathroom, and lie down. Poor Mylah was awakened by the music at the end of her movie, so I had two girls awake at nine o’clock. I didn’t lose my temper, thank God, but I did wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just live somewhere else, pop in once in a while with some goodies and a little cooing, and be a different sort of Gigi. I really didn’t like the sound of my own voice in the atmosphere of impatience and knew that I wouldn’t trade living with and loving this sweet little family for anything in this world. Living and loving, like praying, requires a deep connection that is much more than once in a while. It is the forever love in 1 Corinthians 1-13.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or aclanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part;  but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. NASB

I told Lillyann that I couldn’t help her if she didn’t listen and obey. I could hear God in my own voice and had to smile. I am very like little Lillyann when it comes to obeying, and I know that getting her and myself where we need to be is not a simple task. I don’t want to take the easy path when it comes to loving God, Mylah, Lillyann, or anyone else, and I thank God for not taking the easy path when it comes to loving me. Love is not giving in or giving up. It is giving as I’ve never given before. The girls may not understand now, just as I often don’t understand God, but they will when it matters:) I plan to keep listening to God and doing what I know He wants me to do. That’s love, and that’s not always easy, but experiencing love at its truest level is worth whatever God asks me to do. 

I can do my best and love the best way I know how my entire life and be miserable in my failure at love, or I can love the way God loves and find Him in the love I have for myself and for those in my path. There is no self help book or video that explains love any better than the beautiful scripture above. God continues to bring me back to His Word and His way when it comes to loving because He is love and the best teacher ever. With His help, I’m learning:)

So Much Easier to Just Talk

It’s much easier to talk than listen, and I’ve talked more than I’ve listened throughout my life. The need to fill empty space and the fear of what I will hear are at the root of my chattering. There was a doll named Chatty Cathy when I was young, and I ended up with the nickname myself because of my constant babbling. I noticed a difference in my praying this week as I stopped talking and heard God’s voice in the space I left unfilled.

For Lent this year, I decided to give up space to God. I was having a hard time being still until I came to the place of not knowing what to say this week. It wasn’t the same as being dumbfounded; I’ve been there many times. This was coming to a place of decision and not knowing what to do or say. When lost, it’s much easier to listen to directions. As I heard God saying what He’s been saying for a long while, I knew He would let me continue down my path if I wanted. He certainly knows I do that most of the time. I also knew that I was tired and lost and ready to hear and obey.

It’s easier to talk when it comes to praying for the same reason it’s easier to talk period. If I talk, I won’t run the risk of hearing what I don’t want to hear. If I talk, I might convince myself that my path is the right one. If I talk eloquently enough, I might just convince God. Well, that’s as silly as it sounds and never works. He’s been so patient with me, and I thank Him for letting me come to a place of obedience on my own. It’s the only way to obey. God and I both know that. God never forces me to love Him or obey Him because He knows that isn’t true love or obedience.

It’s easier to have someone tell you what to do, believe, be, etc. The trouble with being told or forced is that I get wistful and wonder what if? That leads to bitterness and then anger. When I decide for myself, I get heartbroken and hurt. That leads to brokenness and openness and enables me to grow and move on as God desires. The tears give way to resignation, and resignation turns to faith as I forget my own desires and understand He knows best. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NASB) 

Christ’s bids me to be like a child, and I’ve certainly felt like a contrite child this week as I have struggled to convince God I’m right. When I got finished talking and didn’t know what else to say, He quietly said what He’s said over and over again. This time, I listened, trusted, and obeyed. It’s hard to leave the known and step into the unknown, but it’s even harder trying to convince God I know better than He does when it comes to my heart. The good news is that when I obey, I feel a peace that is indescribable. It eases the pain and makes listening a little easier the next time I am lost.

It’s easier to talk than to listen. It’s easier to listen than to trust. It’s easier to trust than to obey, but it’s best to remember that God knows what He’s doing and obey in the first place. Maybe one day, I’ll take that advice to heart and use it myself:)

Listening is Relative:)

When it comes to listening, there is nothing better than a soundboard. Bing’s definition is “a board to increase resonance: a thin sheet of wood placed under or above the strings of a musical instrument to increase resonance. On a violin it is the top of the instrument” I love that definition. I’m also intrigued by the list of synonyms Bing offers: friend, soul mate, alter ego, sister, brother, amigo, intimate, best friend.

A listener can be a sponge, a marble slab, a baseball bat, or a sound board. I had to smile when I saw the synonyms because they were not at all what I expected, but they do make perfect sense if you are or have a sound board in your life.

A sponge takes everything in and gives no feedback. They are heavy-laden as they leave because they absorbed it all, but they offer nothing in return. I’m left as empty as they are full, and that isn’t a good feeling for either of us. It is the most unhealthy type of listening.

A marble slab is beautiful but isn’t absorbing a thing. A set smile or a look of concern gives an impression of sincerity where there is none. It’s more about let’s get this over with so I can move on. The experience leaves me empty and them completely unaffected. There is no real interaction, so I’m left feeling worse than before.

A baseball bat immediately takes a swing at the information. Whack! They know exactly how I feel because they’ve been there and done that. In fact, it was much worse for them. They know exactly what I should do, offer a simple solution, and walk off feeling as though they just hit a home run! I’m left wondering what just happened as they strut off the field.

A sound board, according to Bing,  creates “amplification of a sound, e.g. that of an instrument or the human voice, caused by sympathetic vibration in a chamber such as an auditorium or a singer’s chest.” That sounds a lot like love to me:)  If you are or ever have been a sound board, you know that love is the sympathetic vibration in the heart that makes listening a truly powerful connection.

Being a sound board is not as easy as being that slab of marble or as fun as whacking that ball out of the park, but it is the most beautiful feeling in the world when someone hears my heart and understands it. It’s just as good when I do the same for them. It is rare to find a sound board in this world because it takes time and means connecting at a deep level. Several years ago, a dear friend told me I was a wonderful sound board. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I could tell by the tone that it was a good thing. I know now just what it means and consider it the best compliment ever:)

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