Slow Down to Listen Up
written by Rachel Pickel
The Ancient philosopher Zeno once said, “We have two ears and one mouth, therefore we should listen twice as much as we speak.”
Not too long ago, I felt myself getting stressed/anxious/freaked-out by my blocked-up calendar, my children’s activities, my part-time work, my over-time stay-at-home-mom job, my desire for worldly things like new rugs and a bigger SUV to haul my kids and all of my worldly things, my sick and aging dog, my to-do list, my events with my family and friends, MY….MY….MY…..
(Get the picture…it was the month of MY May!)
I was so caught up in all of my life that I wasn’t tuning into the world around me. The world that God wants me to be a part of. I was acting in my type-A self, getting the stuff knocked out and not taking a lot of time to count my blessings or ask for a helping hand from the Lord.
I felt like I was drowning and was angry. The kind of angry your sister notices. The kind of angry attitude your husband really notices (okay –he more than noticed…). I wasn’t listening to the gentle cues God gave me, saying to slow down and enjoy all He has blessed me with. I was doing and kept piling it on and then complaining about it. Kind of like those all-you-can-eat buffets where you eat so much and end up with a tummy ache.
Listening is not just passive hearing. It is an active participating experience in which you pay genuine attention to what the other person (God) is saying. –The Art of Getting Along with People, Cecile C. Osborne.
Sometimes I feel like a child in my walk with Christ. Like I really get a good stride alongside God, great things happen and then I’m like, “Coach – I got this….let me run the plays for a while!” This is when I feel as though he stands back and allows me to continue on, all the while just shaking his all-knowing head, rolling his all-seeing eyes, saying under his all-powerful breath, ”She never seems to listen!”
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25
So – how did I remedy my drowning and anger issues? Well, kind of like the way Lightning McQueen does when he closes his eyes (aka headlights) and visualizes a race (I have a 4-year-old son, so I have to reference Disney’s Cars).
I had to stop, close my eyes, listen to the silence and listen to God melt my heart a bit.
And really, that’s all it took.
I slowed down and handed it to God. I plugged in some of my favorite music on Pandora (Might I suggest The Afters, a contemporary Christian band or Big Head Todd and the Monsters, a bluesy, adult-alternative rock band popular in the 90’s?), and I prayed and spent the afternoon in my house (without my husband and kids) and just prayed, cried, did house work, looked at old photographs and guess what?!?!
God wants us all to enjoy life and “sing a love song.” He divinely designed us for it. But we cannot sing our love songs, if we don’t slow down. In quoting one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, I leave you with this;
If you stop to look you’ll discover
What was there all the while
You’ll find your sisters and brothers
Together gonna get it right
I want you to open up your eyes ’cause what you
Don’t have is gonna make you a little wiser
I know you’re tired of waiting for your true love
But don’t let yourself just settle for a someone
I know you got nothing going on
But you can’t sing a love song
If you can’t slow down.