Before I was a mother, I don't think I listened. Really listened.
Maybe it takes the heart train wreck of sanctification that is motherhood.
Now I listen. And I listen good.
I listen to podcasts, many on mothering.
I listen to my friends, many who are mothers.
I listen to my mother-in-law.
I listen to my mother.
I listen to my sisters.
I listen to my husband. (Not all in that order)
Shoot. I listen to the mail man.
But mostly now I listen to God.
For a counselor whose life and professional education revolved around listening, I realize now I wasn't doing a very good job.
Motherhood softens us in a way by showing us we don't really know it all. In fact, we might as well know nothing. Maybe it is that we aren't too good any more. What freedom! We aren't too good for spit up and poop and screaming tantrums in Target. So we aren't too good to listen to those who have gone before us.
The humility that comes with mothering isn't graceful. It isn't cute. From the very beginning you are raw and exposed. Just think about birth! Completely naked, I entrusted my life and my son's life to medical professionals who knew more about the process than I did. I recall hanging on every word they said, while hanging out exposed and open to everyone in the room. And it didn't matter so much anymore, because I had a higher goal in mind than saving my own pride.
Listen, sister. Titus was 10 days overdue. TEN. I was scared to go anywhere. I didn't work past my due date so I was mostly home alone, in the quiet, perhaps for the first time in my life. This extrovert was STRUGGLING. I was tempted to fill up my days with looking at my phone to feel connected. Instead, I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to prayer. To listen.
I had set up a "Mommy station" in my house where I could nurse Titus. This became a haven for listening to God. "Be still and know that I am God," kept echoing loud in the quiet of my house. I sat and I read scripture and began to pray for everyone I knew. I made 3x5 cards with names and names and names. My girlfriends kept texting me with prayer requests. Even though I felt so tired and helpless, I became a warrior. Waiting for Titus was filled with purpose. And simultaneously while praying for others, I felt God upholding me in his arms.
I was weightless in the arms of my Savior. This ten day overdue, heavy bodied and heavy hearted soul was weightless. I was about to embark on motherhood, and I was anxious to get started. But God spoke in the waiting and empty and quiet. God gave me this pregnant pause.
In the days and weeks after Titus was born, I found myself in that corner exercising my prayer muscle and my new listening heart. God had used those ten days to begin a habit within me. I was tempted to watch Netflix on my phone to just get through the 40 minute nursing sessions, or I was completely anxious with how much I wasn't getting done while feeding my child. I wanted to fill up that time with making to do lists in my brain or on my phone. Even in the one child phase, the mom guilt is strong. On the good days, I used that time to pray. I jokingly called them "breastfeeding prayers" to my friends. And I began to see the sitting and being as the gift that it was.
I listened to God give me the idea of writing. I let him stir this passion up again. I started posting and people started responding. I started listening to his voice tell me to join Anthologies, to blog stories about his good work through the people of our church. I started listening to him tell me to love my husband and make the Vincent Love Challenge. I started listening to him tell me to take small steps of obedience, to do the hard things, to be intentional with my life.
Many mothers I talk to get frustrated with the current sitting and being stage of small babies. Of nothing getting done. Of piles of dishes and toys and laundry and watching the chaos unfold all around them. Of their identity being wrapped up in being the mom and not having time energy or space to do ANYTHING else. Maybe you are waiting for the next phase of your life, for your kiddos to be older, for you to have more time.
What I've learned is that NOW is a gift. God is speaking into THIS time. When our hearts long so strongly for the next phase, perhaps we just aren't listening.
Eventually the nursing sessions became shorter and I thanked God for more time to accomplish things. But looking back, I see that these were times that God accomplished much within me. He opened up my ears to hear him in the stillness, quiet, tired, groggy moments of sitting and being with him. I miss those moments, but I know they are coming again. My challenge now is to make them happen. To make myself sit down to just listen and pray.
Be still and know. It's not really a suggestion. Its a command.
God says, "Listen, Sister."