Friday, October 26, 2012

When listening is no longer a strange, foreign word

I'm in a season of listening.

For the first time since the spring of 2008, I have some margin in my life.  Some white space.  Some quiet.  A place for listening.   A place to be.

I knew after last spring a change was desperately needed.  The woman I was set to become with all of the running and the striving and the tugging was not going to be a pretty thing.  I could see it as my heart filled with bitterness, as I looked at the world and hated it for all it demanded of me, as I increasingly wanted nothing more than to run away and hide for a very long time.  Yet I didn't know what to do but continue on.  Because I'm American and I'm a woman and that's what we do right?  We keep going.

The relationships I held dearest were suffering.  My awareness of God was thread thin.

This summer I felt as though God gave me the word restore.  Restore: for my marriage, our vocation, and my relationship with Him.

We came home after a summer here, there, and everywhere and began to pick up the usuals again.  I knew the return to familiar routine did not mean I had to return to the woman I'd been becoming.  Another word followed on the heels of restore.

Listen.

To listen to His voice.  To welcome in His Spirit.  To ask Him who I am, what I am to be about.

Listening so I might live.  Truly live.

These things take time, you know?  Morning after morning.  Endless cups of coffee.  Pages written.  Prayers whispered.  Silence entered.  Saying no has become my default.  If I am to be about what He wants me to be about, then I best first clear the wasteland filled by my planner, my ego, my guilt, my legalism.

Madeleine L'Engle writes, "I sit on my favorite rock, looking over the brook, to take time away from busyness, time to be.  I've long stopped feeling guilty about taking being time; it's something we all need for our spiritual health, and often we don't take enough of it...

When I am constantly running there is no time for being.  When there is no time for being there is no time for listening...

And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand."

I'm still in the listening chair.  I can sense the stirrings, the hints of the blueprint rustling as it's pulled from the tube.  But the order is right this time.  I am done with action before sacred stillness.  I am ready for action born of listening, of obedience.

So I'm listening.  Listening, I am realizing, cannot be divorced from submission.  And submission leads to something I was not expecting at all:

fullness of joy.

So in joy, I will set out from this silent space, ready to sing.

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