My daughter Hannah was home yesterday, and she followed me around as I cleaned closets and drawers, chatting. What fun. What a joy to know she still likes to talk to me.
“How can I help, Mom?” she asked. I had forgotten to eat, and knew sustenance would be good, so I requested a bit of a tea party. We were soon sitting on the balcony, joined by Rebekah, and enjoying fruit, nuts and herbal tea. Better still, we were enjoying conversation.
When I said I had to be gone for a minute and would be right back (putting another load of laundry on) they said, “You’d better be.” How lovely to be wanted, popular, loved. And what better way to achieve this exalted state than by loving listening.
This morning I was all set to return to the balcony alone for breakfast and research, but I couldn’t get away from Seth’s conversation. I wanted to get on with my thing, but I remembered I don’t have anything on earth more important to do than to listen to my children.
“Follow me,” I told him, “and talk to me while I eat my breakfast.” He joined me and discussed a book he’d read as a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy. Marveling at what was expected and duly performed by kids back then, and discussing the differences in farming then and now, Seth was much more interesting, intriguing, and gratifying than anything I had on my precious agenda.
He left the balcony to be about his business and out popped Rebekah. “I’ve been praying and searching for answers about my writing and my time management, Mom, (haven’t we all?) and let me show you this.” She showed me passages from The Founder’s Bible about black American John Marrant, captive and then missionary to the Cherokees, and about his dealings with evangelist George Whitfield. In listening closely I marveled at how God was reaching Rebekah and how she was receiving from Him.
Conversation with kids. There’s very little kinder or more worthwhile that we can do with our time. I’ll never forget the day I was, as usual, regaling my dad with every detail of my day at school. “And then I go, and then she went, and then I went, and she goes . . . blah, blah, blah.” Nothing like the beautiful thoughts of my children this morning. And yet, my dad listened as though completely enthralled.
My older brother, who was waiting to go hunting with my dad, stood holding his deer rifle and tapping his foot. Finally he could take it no longer. “Did it ever occur to you,” he asked, “that Dad has anything better to do with his time than listen to you yak?”
I was horrified and embarrassed and suddenly acutely aware of the banality of my conversation. But before I could answer, Dad answered for me. “I don’t have a thing in the world more important to do than listen to Bev.”
Wow. No wonder I pray lots. No wonder I have every confidence God hears me. No wonder I have done this great and good thing for my own children. I converse with them, not at them. I listen to them.
And they talk to me. Glory Hallelujah!
P.S. The Proverbs 31 Woman “watches over the ways of her household.” How better to watch over the ways of our households, to know what’s really happening in the precious hearts with which we’re entrusted, than to converse, to listen.