"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1
We're working on being quiet. I realize that in today's society it is not acceptable to be quiet...to be still. "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) I want my children to be able to be still...to sit and listen for the quiet voice of God...to develop this habit early and to practice it throughout their lives.
In my family growing up, the unspoken rule was, "He who speaks loudest of all gets heard." When visitors tried to get a word in edgewise, they were encouraged to, "Just talk louder!"
Consequently, I became the loudest person ever. Loud talker lady would have been my Seinfeld name. Seriously, I got "Most Likely to be Loud" in high school. What an overachiever!
Let me take a moment to explain something. I don't know how this foolishness of youthful "wisdom" came to be a rule in my head. My mother is not a yeller. She is one of the quietest, gentlest people I know. Of all the things I should have caught from her, having a quiet spirit...and voice is definitely one of them. So, don't be misled, I am to blame for believing this ugly, loud lie that I carry on in my home from day to day.
My theory on teaching my children to listen, stemming from this oh-so-godless-proverb of my upbringing, has always been one of speaking over the top of their cries to quiet them down...which is another way of saying...yelling. Then, once I've quieted them by yelling at them to get their attention, I can teach them to be quiet. Aren't there just a few holes in this theory?
One day in the car as the baby was crying, two were arguing and fighting, and yet another one was competing with the noise for my attention, I had a breakthrough moment.
I just knew that as I yelled at them to get their attention, I was definitely not teaching them to turn away wrath with a gentle answer...I was actually doing the opposite. They were all yelling and carrying on because they were doing what they had been taught to do...by me!
There were no gentle words...no gentle hands...no gentle anything in that moment.
Except the gentle voice of God, "My sheep know My voice."
So, I responded. To one child I said in my quietest, gentlest voice, that I could hardly hear myself, "If you can hear your mom, turn around and sit still in your seat quietly."
She immediately did it.
Same thing to the next child.
And the next.
All results were the same.
We implemented a new rule. We take turns talking to one another without interrupting. We are learning to be mutually submissive to one another by allowing the person talking to be heard completely, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Ephesians 5:21) We are submitting to the person talking...by not talking ourselves. We are becoming better listeners and more polite talkers. By obeying God's Word. We will "be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." (James 1:19a)
I'm learning. They're learning. We're learning, together.
"My sheep hear My voice...and they follow Me." John 10:27
Immediately, when they heard my voice addressing them, they stopped and did the right thing. One was crying out for my attention. When she heard me say her name, she stopped.
Two were arguing with each other selfishly, when they heard me reassuring them that I was there with their best interest at heart, they stopped.
When they wake up at night afraid and crying, they are calmed, reassured, relaxed enough to go back to sleep when they hear my voice and feel my touch.
When they are sick or hungry or tired or bored or hurting just a word or touch from me can make it better. Their needs are met. They can rest. They know what they are to be about. Just a kiss from my lips can heal virtually every boo boo in our house.
What a model of how we are to know and rely on the Good Shepherd.
In the chaos of life, the hardness, the busyness and burdens...I hear His quiet, gentle voice. I do the right thing. I'm reassured, my needs are met, I know what I am to be about.
I feel His gentle, loving touch. I am healed. I stop hurting and know that Someone has my best interest at heart.
When I hear His voice, feel His touch in the dark I stop crying, yelling, worrying, arguing, complaining and striving. He is there. He is here! Praise God!
Praise God, His sheep hear His voice.