actively, actually listening


My son is blowing bubbles in the backyard. My baby daughter is fascinated. She watches them for awhile and then, like everything a baby sees, she wants to hold it. As soon as her chubby fingers touch it the bubble bursts and I see her face fall. This plays out over and over and over again (the tenacity runs deep in this one) until she finally gives up and moves on to the next distraction.

I'm trying to be more grateful. I'm one of those people that struggles to see the sunny side. My husband, who God bless him is the exact opposite, has got to be tired of attempting to pull me over to his view of life. I'm the cliche "glass half empty" realist. Although I suspect "realist" is a false descriptor. I'm willing to bet that the balance of positive to negative in reality is all based on perception. I'm making lists in my head and on paper of the things I have to be thankful for to force me out of this natural lean towards complaining.

This exercise in thankful living includes braiding daily quiet time into my life. I'm using the baby's nap time for this. That means ranking that time above dishes, above laundry, and definitely above mindless TV or internet. Some days I listen to a podcast, some days I read scripture and journal, some days I sit and stare at the wall and listen to the quiet that is so incredibly rare and exquisite in my home. I've been doing this for a few weeks now. And while my home looks worse than ever, I feel it paying off.

I heard a sermon once about Moses and the burning bush and how God didn't speak to him until he saw that Moses had taken the time to stop what he was doing and look at the bush. God speaks when we stop. I'm sure that's not always the case- and I'm one of the least qualified people in the world to interpret scripture- but isn't it easier to hear when we aren't distracted? And in our culture of distraction how often are we actively, actually listening?


Now that I'm trying to listen, here's what I'm hearing. Hold on to this life loosely. Nothing I have is truly mine. We grasp and claw at things and belongings and people and reputations when we can hold on to none of them. We reach for the bubble to hold on to it with all our limited strength- only to see it eventually break and disappear. Wouldn't it be better to watch them float by-admire their beauty? To let them slip away and not feel less for it. To see each moment and task we have in front of us as what it is- temporary. To marvel at the fact that we are breathing and living at all but to know it is a short state of affairs- and to not fight that.

I would love to have a checklist I could post for how to do this. I don't. I just know I'm tired of letting the fearful "what ifs" be my guiding light. I will keep fighting the negative spiral of thinking that so often leads me to sadness. I will search for joy and meaning in my days even when it seems like there is so little. I will hold lightly to both the gifts and challenges I have been given and not let either define me. I will fail terribly at this over and over and over again- but my daughter's tenacity had to come from somewhere and I'm hoping it runs deep in me too.


Comments

  1. Your post speaks to me. I am also a realist and tend to think of the "glass is half empty." My blog is even called Reluctant Stay at Home Mom because I think motherhood is hard most days. Anyway, thanks for this and the reminder to stop and focus on gratitude instead of complaining.

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    1. It can be so hard when the day to day is draining. Hang in there!

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  2. It can be hard sometimes to stop, be quiet, and just be still, but it is so helpful. Thank you for this reminder!

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    1. Being still with small children running around can be impossible, when it happens it is amazing!

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  3. Wow! I have to tell you that this truly blessed me. I'm not necessarily a negative thinker, but I tend to think of the glass half empty most of the time. The way I keep myself inspired and positive is, like you, taking time for myself. I read devotionals and I constantly surround myself with inspiration. I used to buy cute inspirational pieces in the $1 section in Target for fun, but now I've realized there is a deeper purpose in me having those things. It keeps me lifted daily. Also, thank you for saying the importance of stopping to hear God. I pray daily, but sometimes easily get distracted. Thank you for reminding me the importance of stopping to truly hear Him!

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    1. so easy to get distracted. I'm thinking about getting a "cell phone coop" for us to all put our phones in at home!

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  4. This is such a good reminder to take the time to pause and listen to what God is trying to tell us. I don't have kids, but it's so easy to get wrapped up in my own life that I don't even think about what God wants.

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    1. I know and kids just adds more to the list of distractions.

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  5. So well written! I'm glad your finding time to stop and contemplate. It can be hard to make time for that, but it's a priority and I know my head space is clearer and more positive whenever I make it a priority. I totally agree with letting go of the fearful "what ifs" and to admire things for what they are and "To let them slip away and not feel less for it.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'd be lying if I said I got my quiet day every single day now. But I'm a work in progress.

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  6. This is so sweet! I love when we get to unplug and actually enjoy our families. It's so rare these days to have no technology when you're sharing time with loved ones but it is so needed.

    - xo, Azanique | www.lotsofsass.com

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    1. unplugging so rarely happens. It's funny to look around and see how many people are looking at a screen.

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  7. My husband is like you, I am more like your husband.
    xo, Lee

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  8. Thank you for sharing this. I've been in a place lately of just being still and listening. There's so much that I want to be different, but I'm spending more time being grateful for what I have now. I really feel so much better overall since I've stopped to take in the beauty of what's around me. Like you said, nothing is truly ours. So we should be grateful and enjoy it while we can.

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