Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Problem with Talking

This is Elias. He's three and half. My middle boy.

He's super silly. Cute and coy. He gives the best hugs and has a fiery temper. He's a helper and a cuddler and a curious explorer.

And he likes to talk.

A lot.

Now, I'm not a quiet mouse kind of mama. In fact I love to talk. Give me two cozy chairs, a hot cup of Vanilla Bean coffee with Sweet Cream creamer, and a girlfriend next to me and I can talk for hours. Deep soul bearing. Beautiful mess moments laughter and tears sharing. I talk to process my feelings. Talk to understand the things of God. Talk to encourage the hearts of those I love.

So I never guessed that talking would be a problem for me.

Well, not my talking. His talking.

Because Elias doesn't stop talking. Seriously. Nearly every waking moment this luscious lipped, pouty cheeked, twinkly eyed living piece of my heart talks. And talks and talks and talks.

And usually his raspy-voiced words sputter forth in the form of questions. Oh, the questions.

How come this? And what is that? And why and where and who and how? Every thought that he thinks (or even half formed thoughts) become a never ending litany of questions.

I've never wanted to be a technical writer, but I think, if I so desired, I could be a pretty darn good one. For I have logged hundred of hours explaining the simplest things in intricate detail. And hundreds more breaking down the most complex concepts into layman's terms. (Don't scoff at the keen skill this most definitely requires!)

It's not that I just get weary of answering why that truck is white or where that walking man might be walking to or how that rock got its ragged edges and who did I think put it there. What I struggle with most about my question-shooting shorty is when he doesn't hear the answer.

Eli shouts and whines and laughs out his questions in full-throttle, three-year-old urgency, but he rarely stills his tongue long enough to listen. Sometimes he's on to the next what about or why, but mostly he just keeps repeating the same question. Over and over. And over.

[I would give you an example of one of these stuck-on-repeat conversations, but the repetition may be so mind numbing you'd probably stop reading.]

So let's just say, I'm there explaining the world. I'm unpacking his curiosity, trying to help him make sense of all the puzzles in his head. But, it's as if Eli doesn't even hear me. But, he keeps asking to hear me!

But, why, Mommy? But, WHY, Mommy? But, Whyyyyy, MOM-MY!!!!

Soft or loud, slow or quick, however I try to package my reply so my big-eyed, soft-heart preschooler can soak in what I'm trying to say...it matters NOT!


And sometimes I just want to scream!

It was in one of these Becky, take a deep breath and model appropriate ways to handle your frustration moments that the Lord brought to mind a verse I had been considering earlier that week. Colossians 4:2 instructs:
"Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
When I first read this in my quiet time I immediately tucked it in my heart as another encouragement to take notice of all of God's gifts and be grateful.

But now, in this I-hate-to-admit-it mothering moment where I'm coveting a pair of noise-canceling headphones, I hear a question in my heart that I know I didn't put there:

"What if Elias isn't the only one who asks the same question without listening for the answer?"

I knew what God was talking about. My prayer life.

The part of my relationship with Him where I feel the freedom--nay, the necessity--to tell God everything I'm thinking and ask Him over and over about specific deep questions on my heart. This is not bad. We have been given the glorious privilege to come directly to God with all of our burdens and cares!

But Paul's wisdom to the Colossians struck a new chord of conviction in me. Devote myself to prayer, yes! But then devote myself to watching for His answer! Not the answer I want in the way that I want it.

Devote myself to waiting on God: ready to perceive His reply. Ready to praise Him for it.

I never guessed that Eli's talking would be a problem for me. Nor that God would use it to point me to a problem of my own.

But then again, as I begin to turn my heart to a posture of watchfulness, I now see that this is all part of the answer to my repeated, prayerful plea,

"Lord, show me how to draw ever closer to you. 
More of you. Less of me."


Mindy Rogers said...

"Devote myself to prayer, yes! But then devote myself to watching for His answer!"
I love how you highlighted the second part of this verse and how you used sweet Elias to illustrate. Touches my heart!

Holli Long said...

Great parallel. I have two three-year-olds who are just entering the never-ending question phase, so I get what you mean about asking the same thing over and over. We learn so much via parenthood. Thanks for sharing. Visiting from #TellHisStory.

Jamie S. Harper said...

What a great story!