Hearing from God starts with making listening a priority. To listen clearly, we need to find solitude in the chaos of family life. In a message Jordan (my husband) and I were listening to this week, we were challenged to do the following three things:
- Find a whispering spot.
- List the voices in your life that influence you (good and bad).
- Choose solitude for 10 minutes each day.
I’ve seen a ton of social media posts recently that have said things like “check on your extrovert friends, they’re not okay.” I get it, absolutely. If you need to be around people to recharge, self-isolation and physical distancing are going to be a challenge.
But for Jordan and I, trapped at home with two wildly social, energetic and talkative kids … us introverts are not okay either. I find myself missing the drive to work, purely for the silence (or outrageously loud show tunes). I’m missing the twenty minutes of solitude that I’ve never before been thankful for.
Our pastor, Jeff, challenged us in this message to find a “whispering spot” away from the noise and choose solitude for ten minutes. My initial reaction was to laugh. I don’t know if I could find a yelling spot for ten minutes, let alone a whispering spot! But we know that we aren’t the only family in this situation. In our house, it’s more a case of making ten minutes to listen than finding those ten minutes.
Jeff had some great suggestions on Sunday for families like us. Things like leveraging moments of screen time, spelling one another off, and creating a specific space to retreat from the noise. We have been trying to add those suggestions in our day-to-day this week. We’ve also come up with some ideas of our own to add, too.
The first thing we did was to shuffle things around in our bedroom a little.
We moved a bookshelf out and brought in a comfy chair. It’s not a fancy space by any means. However it is a designated space to curl up and get away from the chaos of the main floor. It’s an excellent place for me to journal in the mornings as well, because no matter the time, if I go downstairs, either the dog or the kids think it’s time to start the day. By staying in our room, there’s much less of a chance I’ll wake anyone up.
The second thing we’ve been doing to carve out time is really more of an attitude shift.
Our (giant) puppy requires a ton of exercise. Jordan has embraced an entirely new mindset in this task. Now, that daily walk is a guaranteed 30 minutes of solo time to pray, listen or just be quiet in God’s presence. Sometimes, he even includes our kids. Depending on the age of your kids, putting them in a stroller or wagon, or on a bike or scooter keeps them occupied. You can walk behind at your own pace and simply make the choice to listen.
Lastly, we’ve realized that the best way to make time in the midst of family life is just to take it.
At times, that means plugging in headphones and ignoring the chaos around us. (Not both of us at the same time). Other times, that means the kids get a few extra minutes of screen time while I write in my journal. And sometimes, it means reflecting on the Bible app ‘Verse of the Day’ while dinner is cooking because that’s the time we’ve got.
There are definitely days when we can’t get time alone, and that’s when we’re learning to adapt to where we’re at. We’ve found that having the kids cuddle us on the couch and look at a book while we read the Bible helps them feel like they’re “in” on our personal time. Plus it often allows for a few extra minutes. In time, our kids will learn that “Bible time” means that we’re having alone time with God, and they’re more apt to have their own “Bible time”.
I think the most significant thing that we’ve realized in this season is the importance of consistency. Jeff said it in his message; the key isn’t geography, it’s consistency. If we are intentional about seeking time to listen, we’re a lot more likely to hear from God.
Making time to listen in solitude is a priority, whether in a physical “whispering spot” or not, is key to spiritual growth. This week has not been perfect, and that is okay, because we are learning and building a new rhythm. By building this time into our day, the other activities flex to fit around it. And by making it part of the routine, we’re a lot less likely to get overwhelmed by all of the other voices in our lives.
By Jordan & Alicia Mason