Why did I even come?
This is the thought that sometimes runs through my mind when I am wrangling my squirmy toddler in the church pews, or running laps in the entrance of the church trying to make a delirious child tranquil. There is so much noise that it is almost impossible to concentrate on what is happening up on the altar. The noise is not only from my toddler’s maniacal laughter and hasty footsteps as she escapes from my grip, or her loud exclamations of “Hi baby!” or “Go home now!” My mind is also full of noisy thoughts, including “Wow this is exhausting” or “For the love of everything, please just sit and color for 5 minutes!” and the default, “Why did I even come?” Sometimes I get an answer, but only if I listen.
Yesterday at church, in the midst of chasing my shrieking toddler, I happened to tune in for a few seconds, long enough to hear a message loud and clear.
Listen, even when it’s hard to hear.
In the back of the church, where it was difficult for me to hear the words being spoken, and even more difficult for me absorb their meaning, God knew my struggle. The reading was John 6:60-69, when some of Jesus’ followers say in whiny voices, “This saying is hard, who can accept it?” and he replies with “What, are you shocked? I am God and this is a flawed world, of course it’s going to be hard.”
He didn’t use those exact words, but that’s the main idea.
In that moment, I was reminded that I am called to listen and absorb the things that God wants me to hear, no matter what is going on in my life, and no matter how difficult the message is. I am called to listen when I have a loud squirmy child, and when my life plans don’t turn out the way I pictured. I am called to listen when I am feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities and when I am distracted by insignificant things in my daily life. I am called to do the difficult work of listening to God even when my life is already challenging and noisy.
Making myself listen is hard, and uncomfortable, and I know that sometimes I sound like the whiny followers saying “But that sounds hard, do you really expect me to do it?” His answer to this is always “Uh, yes. What do you expect?” News flash: doing the right thing and being a light in a dark world is uncomfortable. It requires you to pay attention, reflect on yourself, and live a conscious life. As the wise Dr. Seuss says in his book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” I could live a comfortable life, constantly closing off my eyes and ears to what God wants me to see and hear, or I can listen even when it is hard to hear, and see even when it is hard to look.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes, which is particularly relevant to my thoughts today:
“The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
-Pope Benedict XVI
How do you find moments to listen, even when you are too preoccupied, or when the message is hard to hear?
Until next time,