One Word 2015
Like many others, I like to choose a word for the year.
Showing up is my New Year’s Resolution, but my word for 2015 is Listen.
I do entirely too much talking. (Ahem, see earlier post about not deserving my friends.) I talk when I am nervous, I talk to fill silence, I talk at people instead of with people. Talking can be about control. When I talk, I am subtly trying to control the situation by filling it with my words and my thoughts. It’s much harder to sit still and listen, make space for the ideas and thoughts of others. What will they say? How will it affect us? What if their words pierce us? What if we experience cognitive dissonance at what we hear? Listening requires us to relinquish control, but listening is all about relationship. Listening says, I’m here, I’m present, and you can be you. In listening, we hold silent space for the truest, real presence of others, if they choose to show up, too.
Listen is for friendships. For letting friendly silences fall to see what might come shyly into the open spaces.
Listen is for marriage, to hold my peace and hold space for my husband. Sometimes when I probe into his feelings and thoughts, he doesn’t want to say what is on his mind because he already knows what I will say about it. This year, I want to surprise him with silence and nodding affirmation and eye contact. This is not to suggest I will always agree or affirm him because I won’t, but to simply say I hear you, which can be the beginning of something beautiful.
Listen is for family and parenting. I truly believe it is easier to talk at our kids rather than to listen to them. Partly this is because they produce so.much.chatter. I don’t mean to suggest that we have to be intensely interested in everything they have to say. I personally am not interested in the minutiae of details about Ninja Turtles. But in the midst of all that chatter falls gems of insight into big feelings housed in little bodies. Not all the feelings need to be explored and talked over. We as parents can hold them through listening and funnel them into prayer and action.
I look at my kids and I see the ways I fret over who they are and who I want them to be. Unconsciously, I am trying to make them quieter, more controllable … easier for me. I think this is tragic. Poor parenting, no instruction is also tragic, but there’s a lot of distance between those two ends of the spectrum. Constantly correcting kids causes them to doubt themselves. My kids are high definition characters full of vice and tiny, tentative budding virtues. I don’t want to try to turn down their volume, dim their spirits, whitewash them into something socially acceptable…and boring.
This family, we are loud, we yell sometimes, we eat too much, we cry and overreact. We are dramatic and lazy and sensitive and cranky. But we also read together and make cool things and talk it out and hug and create.
This year, I don’t want to change my kids so much as I was to excavate them, and uncover more of who they are, like Michelangelo freeing David from the slab of marble. Certainly they all need much instruction in life and manners and the heavy lifting of parenting Isaac and Susanna is in full swing. But I don’t want to create little images of me. I want to help them chip away the rough parts that don’t belong to find out what does. I want them to feel free to be different and unique and wonderful and accepted–as they are.
To find out, I will practice listening.
I won’t do it perfectly, I’ll fall short often, but this is my one word focus for this year: listen.