Ever notice how the quieter one speaks, the more we have to tune into what they're saying to really hear and understand them?
The other day I was chatting with my mom on Skype. It hardly took any time at all when I realized that I was having such a difficult time listening to her speak. No matter how far I turned up my volume (which it was maxed out), she hardly spoke above a whisper. It was almost to the point where the sound of my own breathing was too loud to hear her over it.
As I stumbled around my computer trying to figure out why she was so quiet, I came to the realization that my computer wasn't the issue. It wasn't even my ears. The issue was her speaking volume.
I finally grabbed a set of headphones (the kind you stick in your ear) just to be able to sort of understand her. As I put them in, I assured her that I wasn't listening to music or anything, I was simply trying to hear her better. That's when she clued me into something important.
For those of you who don't know of my mom's health issues. Let me clue you into something important as well. My mom's a brain aneurysm survivor and as a result of her surgery is also a two-time stroke survivor. She struggles with aphasia (the inability to understand). The important thing she clued me into is that to her, she sounds like she's yelling even when she's just whispering. She told me over and over again, "If you can't hear me, TELL ME TO SPEAK UP!" Of course, this was said with a whisper.
This got me thinking about how I often need to cut out distractions just to simply hear and listen to what is being spoken to me. Even more importantly, it's important to cut out distractions so that I can hear what God is speaking to me.
Here are Six Tips for Cutting Out Distractions So That We Can Understand God Better:
- Plan ahead- When I sit down and read my Bible or pray, I have to plan ahead a bit. I have two little, very distracting, boys. Sometimes I try and wake up early, other times I set up something on the TV so that I can get some alone time. With them, I also make sure that they have a snack, beverage, and anything else they might need during the time I wish to dedicate to listening to the Lord. For myself, I set up my own space and bring along my supplies.
- Bring a Beverage- I'm a big believer in having a beverage and a snack with me. I don't know what it is about the combination, but it signals my mind that "it's time to work." By work, I mean buckle down and focus on what's in front of me. I want to focus on God, I want to focus on what He's trying to tell me through His Word and through prayer.
- Light a candle- There's something about a lit candle that signals a time of relaxing as well as communicates to me that the space is clean. I blame that last one on my mom. She would always light a candle after the dishes were done or after the whole house was clean. If I feel like things are clean, I'm more likely to sit down and focus.
- Declutter the space- It's hard for me to sit down in a space when I see the need to clean it. I will always get up and do some cleaning because until the space is cleaned, I won't be able to relax. All I will think about is what needs to be cleaned and, "If I just take x number of minutes to clean it, I'll accomplish more than if I sit here and think about cleaning."
- Keep a To-Do List handy- Sometimes I can't help myself. Even as I write this, I'm listening to my washer and dryer signal that they have completed a load. It's SO HARD not to get up and go take care of it, interrupting my train of thought. A scratch piece of paper is always handy. I can write down on it, "change the laundry" and move on. When I'm done spending my time with the Lord, then I have a list of tasks I can accomplish right off the bat.
- Don’t Multitask- I don't recommend listening to music and reading the Bible. Maybe instrumental music, but definitely nothing with words. I don't recommend reading the Bible and talking on the phone. Why? Because if our attention is divided, how can we be sure that we're soaking up everything we need to when we're supposed to be spending time with God?
I think about when I go out on dates with my husband or when I try and talk to him about something and he pulls out his phone. It's hard not to get upset by it. Isn't what I have to say important to him? I try to keep this in mind when I've set time aside to talk to God. I do believe that what He has to say is important. I believe that what He has to say is worth my time and energy to listen to Him. He is worth giving my full and undivided attention to.