“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame”
(Proverbs 18:13 ESV).
Everyone has a particular Mom-style and special God-given Mom-talents.
I do, too. I have a talent for Mom-speeches.
There’s the “Your sister is your best friend. Other friends will come and go, but God gave you a sister for life” speech.
The “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” speech.
There’s the “Behave like a lady, talk like a lady, eat like a lady, sit like a lady” speech on manners and the “Don’t embarrass me in public” speech for family outings.
I give an “Always do your best and strive for excellence so you can be proud of your work” speech and the “God gave you special talents for you to develop and use” speech and also a “The best things in life are worth working hard for, so don’t ever give up” speech.
Also the “You made a commitment, so you have to fulfill your promise” speech for when my kids get tired out half-way through activities.
My kids also know the “I love you no matter what, even if I’m disappointed in you” speech and a “you’re totally beautiful inside and out—and the inside is what matters most” speech, which is often followed up by a discussion of boys and the “you are so smart and so talented and God has such big plans for you; worrying about boys is just a distraction (and no dating until you’re 30)” speech.
We also have the “You are a King girl. You represent our family and you represent God, so keep that in mind in what you say and do” speech and a speech on “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you meet, but you do have to treat others with kindness.”
Yes, I can hop up on a Mom soapbox at the slightest provocation. Fortunately, I have one daughter who seems to listen.
And I have one that. . . well, doesn’t. By the time I am finishing up one of my epic declarations, she’ll look me in the eye and ask something totally random, like “Why does Batman wear a mask?” or “Can I have ice cream now?” Clearly the whole time I’ve been waxing eloquent she’s been thinking about superheroes and dessert.
Last week, I could barely tell my kids it was time for dinner much less deliver one of my famous orations. My throat was a scratchy mess and the loudest I sounded was when I was coughing.
And a week without speechifying was good for me. It’s not that any of the things I say are bad. Who knows? Maybe my girls really do hear me and take my treasures of wisdom to heart.
Maybe when they are 35 and looking in the face of their own daughter, they’ll find themselves repeating the speeches they learned by heart from me.
But just as important as what I say . .. probably more important really . . . is whether I’m listening to what they have to say.
A lady in a Bible Study with me years ago said, “Listening is an act of love.”
This is true for us; we can show love to others by listening, really listening, to what people have to say. It’s looking them in the eye when they talk rather than shuffling papers, multi-tasking, glancing at our watches and texting on our phones.
It’s asking deep questions to show we care and want to hear more and are interested in their thoughts.
It’s controlling our own thoughts—our own tendency to think up things to say while they “chatter”—and instead actually focusing on what the other person is expressing.
It’s redirecting conversations to be about them instead of always us. Yes, we all have “stuff,” we all have life to share and stories to tell. But for a few minutes, you can make another person feel loved just by letting them be the one to talk.
Then there’s God. Listening to Him is an act of love also. It shows we value what He has to say and aren’t rushing through our time with Him, dumping our problems at the altar and rushing off into our day like He’s a personal assistant.
Instead, we can pray that, like He did for Isaiah, God “wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed” (Isaiah 50:4). He can tune our hearts and our ears to listen to His voice and the hearts of others all through our day.
Partway through my week without a voice, I loaded my daughters into the mini-van with a whispered, “Let’s go somewhere” and drove them to the movie theater to see Brave, the story of a Scottish princess trying to escape arranged marriage.
There in that darkened icebox of a theater, I watched a mom make speeches to a daughter who was tired of hearing them. Both of them were talking; no one was listening and understanding.
But then the mom couldn’t talk at all. Her only form of communication was a pointing finger and some pantomime and charades. Yet, somehow mother and daughter never understood each other so well as when there was forced silence and purposeful listening.
As I sat there watching an animated Disney/Pixar film, I thought of James’s words: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19 ESV) and I remembered that speeches are fine, but I’m too quick to make them.
It’s much better to be quick to hear, prone to listen, talented at understanding . . . and slow to speak.
Who needs you to listen to them today?
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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.