“But Mom! He…”
She’s 5 and she wants me to know what her brother did. She wants me to hear her side of the story.
I take a deep breath. “I know what he did. But we are talking about what you did.”
Again, she replies, “But he…”
My 8-year-old is trying to get his side of the story out, too. It’s a war of “who started it” and the volume increases.
I wish I would have prayed and listened in that moment. Maybe it was the fact that we were in the grocery store and I was preoccupied. Maybe it was the attention we were drawing to ourselves. I don’t know… I just wanted the sibling fighting to end and for there to be some kind of peace until we could get out of the store.
Sometimes I’m human and I miss the real issue.
Later I remember the fighting that broke out in the cereal aisle. I choose to pray and I choose to listen. I know they just wanted to be heard. Their argument was very real to both of them, but I think, more than anything, they wanted to know I was listening.
And I wish I would have held them both close and whispered the words they needed most in that moment: “I hear you.”
She is 5 and he is 8 and they want to be heard, and I am 30 and I’m not so different. It’s not always about who is right and who is wrong. Sometimes it’s about whether or not my voice really matters.
Because when I was a child, many times it didn’t. Abuse and lies and secrecy and shame: those things can silence a soul pretty quickly. As a kid I was silenced, but as an adult I scream.
Sometimes I scream and I flail and I wrestle, not as much in the cereal aisle as in relationships and in my own skin. Sometimes I try so hard to make sure someone hears me.
“Do you HEAR that it hurts?”
“Do you SEE what he did?”
Sometimes I need someone to say those 3 words to me. “I hear you.”
I’ve tried this approach with my kids since the day in the cereal aisle. I’ve pulled her close and affirmed her feelings. “I hear you.” I’ve stroked his hair and wrapped him in my arms. “I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
They relax in my arms. Somehow tantrums die quickly when we know someone cares about how we feel. Somehow the things we are so upset about seem much smaller when we know we are heard. And when we know we are heard, and we are loved, it makes it easier to work through whatever that thing is that has us so upset.
And as I do that for my kids, God does that for me. That’s the thing about God. He’s a good Dad. He doesn’t miss the real issue like I so often do. He knows my tantrums are likely about more than what is seen on the surface. And He longs to pull me close and wrap me in His arms and whisper those words to me.
“I hear you. It was wrong. I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
Those words comfort my kids. And they comfort me… those words are balm to very deep wounds.
I can stop flailing and let Him hold me. When I know I am loved, I don’t need to struggle. I can rest. I can be present with the God who hears me.
RIGHT NOW, in this moment… I am heard.