listening

I’m sitting here in the dark, criss cross applesauce on the living room sofa. The coffee is brewing, in just a minute I’ll hear the beep beep beep telling me it’s ready. Thank you, Jesus. The birds are already chirping outside, way more awake than I feel right now. It’s grey and rainy but they are singing just as beautifully as they did on the warm sunny day we had yesterday. Isn’t that a nice idea? To have such consistency in character, to be so confident in your purpose. To just wake up and sing your song whatever the circumstances, morning after morning.

I truly admire the persistence of the chickadee. They are these small little things that probably don’t even weigh a pound but you can hear them everywhere. You know one when you hear one, and I always pause to watch and listen. They remind me that small things can make an impact. Small things can be heard. 

Yes, I’m talking about myself here. And maybe you too if you’ve ever wondered, or doubted, what it is you have in your heart, in your hands, to offer to the world.

I’m sure there’s a song in me, like the chickadee’s sweet chickadee-dee-dee, chickadee-dee-dee. And one in you too. But we will never know these things if we don’t give ourselves the space to listen. Do you allow your soul to speak to you? Do you get quiet sometimes, do you let your mind get still? 

I have this horrible, life-sucking habit. I do it when I’m bored, when I’m lonely, when I want to avoid the feelings of being bored and lonely. When I want to numb anything uncomfortable, like the belief that I have no song to sing. This thing I do is probably the most time-wasting, mood-draining thing I do. 

I scroll. You know what I’m talking about. Sometimes half an hour passes, sometimes an hour. I look up from the bright light of my phone and my eyes have to adjust to real life. Where am I? What year is it? Absolutely nothing is gained when I scroll. I don’t feel happier, lighter, more inspired. I feel very distant from myself and my life. I feel empty. 

And yet I find myself in the cozy armchair in my living room, the one with my favourite white fuzzy pillow, scrolling. Night after night after night. 

I think our lives are full of habits like this, whether it be scrolling on our phones or drinking too much or cramming our schedules too full, that keep us from listening to ourselves. When we do these things it’s like turning up the music full blast — there’s no way we can hear our souls speak. 

I like how Brene Brown has put it: “We stay so busy that the truth of our lives can’t catch up.”

You know what does fill me up? Putting my phone away, out of arm’s reach (like waaaaaay out of arm’s reach). Staring at the sunset out the window for a few minutes. Watching my kids play. Taking a few deep breaths. Singing Come Thou Fount. Doing a few slow stretches. 

I think sometimes we resist slowing down, and giving ourselves space to listen, because we don’t know what we’ll discover when we do. Maybe we’re scared we’ll find nothing. 

But I am convinced that God wants to speak to us, and our souls are willing and listening. Are we letting these two communicate, or is the music up too loud? What is something we can do today that will put our hand on the dial, and turn it down a notch? 

Find a moment today that reminds you that you are seen and deeply loved, and don’t rush away from it. Maybe you linger on the bench for a few minutes longer during your lunch break, or turn off the radio on the drive home and enjoy the silence. Maybe you close the computer screen a half hour earlier tonight (15 minutes?). Maybe you put on your favourite song while you cook dinner. Whatever it is, let that moment fill you up from head to toe. Savour it. Even when your mind tells you all the things you should be doing, or tries to convince you this isn’t for you, stay. 

As I finish up this post the dark sky is growing lighter and thunder has begun to crack through the silence. The chickadee is still singing her song. And that’s just it, isn’t it? Eventually the truth gets through, loud and clear. We just need patience and the strong belief that we are so, totally, worth this investment.

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