Friday, June 29, 2012

When I'd Rather Listen

Sometimes I would rather listen than pray.

Prayer can feel complicated at times, when your mind is overwhelmed with things you feel you need to say, requests you need to make, and a multitude of blessings you know you should be giving thanks for. Prayer isn't complicated, though. It's supposed to be simple. At least, that's what I think. I know there are systems we teach -- "enter in" with thanksgiving and praise, being careful to give thanks before making requests, be sure to praise God for who He is, not just what He has done. Those are valid teachings. These ideals instill a mindset that is important.

But sometimes I don't really have it in me to pray. Or maybe, I don't know how to get out what I really need to say.

For example, today. My (almost) five-year-old -- we think he's wonderful, handsome, and intelligent. But he has a pretty difficult tendency. He doesn't like to stop talking. After informing me (while I was in the bathroom, of course) that his sister had spilled her soup all over the table, I asked him to get a paper towel and I would be right there. Micah is usually Mister Helpful. He loves to be involved and help and show us what he can do. Today he took a note from a chapter he has decided to frequent a little too often lately, he decided that my request/command was not appropriately timed and proceeded to argue, quite insistently, that he "had to eat first." Really? You're going to stand there while soup drips all over the floor and I'm trying to get out of the bathroom and insist that grabbing one paper towel is too much of an infringement on your meal schedule? REALLY?

I guess I could have typed that more diplomatically to make myself look better, but that is prettymuch exactly what I felt. By the time I was exiting the restroom, I found him standing there with his hands on his hips, quite determined that he knew best.

The incident (and stubborn refusal to obey) was handled, lunch was cleaned up, and children were sent to nap time and quiet time. Mom is left sitting on the couch wondering how in the world you teach a child, from the earliest reasonable age, to the best of your ability, not to argue back, to obey the first time, and they repeatedly test those expectations. Starting early is supposed to make things easier, right? Is every bit of parenting wisdom I think I have completely wrong?

There isn't much of an analogy to draw here from my son's disobedience to my feelings on prayer. It's more about how I felt afterward. A scripture in James often comes to mind in my parenting dilemmas (James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.). And so I've asked. Repeatedly. And will continue to. And the wisdom does come. I'd like it come faster, truthfully, but it does come.

But sometimes what I need more than to ask -- more than to outline in my own way what God has already seen -- I just need to listen, knowing He already knows. He's seen every exchange, known every emotion (on my part and on Micah's, isn't that a beautiful concept?), watched every attempt at doing things correctly and every moment of pure complacency. So I'd rather just listen. If that means sitting in the short window of quiet I have and just listening and waiting for the peace I know He can give, and the wisdom I've already asked for so many times -- sometimes I'd just rather do that.