The Lord is near to all who call on Him." (Psalm 145:18)
On my childhood report cards, the box “talks too much” was always checked.
I could not help myself. I loved chatting “up a storm” as one teacher reported to my parents. And she was not wrong. I think I secretly envied the teacher because she got to talk all day long. ALL DAY LONG. Nothing better.
This did not go away.
Four of the hardest days I’ve ever had were when I actually made it from that little piece of mail that said I was called for jury duty to an actual trial. I had to sit and listen for five to six hours straight without so much as a peep except for lunch break with my fellow people “in the box” when we discussed what we thought about the case. Those 30 minutes were excruciating because I still had to listen to the other eleven and only got about five short minutes to “express myself.” I hope I am never called again. And if I am, I will find some excuse not to have to endure such torture.
I love talking. I love public speaking. I love writing. I love processing and expressing my thoughts to anyone who will hear them (and even to those who don’t want to).
The pleasure. Now I had a captive audience.
People who not only had to listen, but I had the pronounced authority by my faith community and societal norms for them to do what I told them to do.
No time wasted.
No questions asked.
No listening necessary on my part.
Just talk talk talk talk talk.
Until a day that’s etched into my memory forever.
I was standing at the kitchen counter and my five-year-old was yammering along about something. I was busy preparing some kind of food for the four hungry mouths that were never satiated. I remember just “yeah, yeah, yeah”ing her as I chopped, peeled, fried, or mixed (not sure what the heck I was doing to tell you the truth).
My twelve-year-old at the time (her older sister) was doing her homework and, little did I know, was watching. And listening. To her sister. And me.
At some point, she couldn’t take it anymore and blurted these words out (the echo is still there in my ever-loving mom brain):
“MOM! You are NOT even listening to her! You do that to all of us all the time!”
I stopped right in my tracks, sloppily defending myself.
“You are not allowed to talk to me like that, young lady! I listen to you people all day long! Maybe you should just go to your room to finish your work!”
Off she went, feet shuffling up the stairs, and I returned to the “most important” work of endless food prep.
After a few awful normal mom regret moments, I turned to my littlest one, who had quieted down after the big blow up.
“Sweetheart, does Mommy do a good job of listening to you?” I asked.
“Can I tell you the truth without getting sent to my room?” she sheepishly questioned.
“Of course, honey. I am ready to hear anything.”
“Not really.” she whispered.
My heart sank.
I chatted about this story with this same very grown-up daughter recently (and she remembers it vividly). Again, I felt that remorse burning in my ever-loving and how-could-I heart.
As the conversation went on, she reminded me how much I’ve changed and how hard I worked and am continuing to work to heal that part of me. I was grateful, but that evening, I kept thinking about it.
As I lay in my bed, I had a long chat with God about it.
Just talk talk talk talk talk.
I caught myself in the middle of it and apologized to God for not listening (once again).
I was met with silence no matter how much I laid quietly, trying to open my “heart ears.”
Because I’m a middle-aged woman, I fell asleep quickly only to awaken at the ungodly hour of 2:30 am.
In my foggy-brain stupor, a gentle whisper spoke to my soul.
“Tell me more,” it beckoned. “Tell me more.”
“Seriously?” I answered in my now much more alert state.
“YES, my child. Tell me more.”
I babbled, tears flowing, through all the shame as I felt as a kid for being someone who couldn’t keep quiet, how I feel like I say too much at times still, and that I wonder if I’ve got some un-healable issue that will go on forever.
But somehow it was not a deafening silence where I felt dismissed and disconnected.
Instead, it was a welcoming silence that invited me to share the whole me, all my fear, shame and guilt. To share the parts of me that I keep hidden from the world, my friends, my family and even myself.
A sacred silence where I felt heard and held, where no talking was too much and no issue would move me away from belonging to the Tender Lover of My Soul.
A gentle silence, making space for the grace I so needed to receive from Him and mostly from myself. So incredibly gentle.
I’m not sure how long I laid there, eyes and “mouth” open, but I know that I was able to talk until I was done.
Not telling me I was too much.
Or it was enough already.
Until I was done.
Because that’s what Love does. And that’s what I need.
And that’s how Love is. And that’s how I heal.
And that’s who Love is. And that’s who I will forever keep talking to.
This God of “tell me more.”