Tuning Out

“What did you do at school today?”

“We answered questions about our life.”

“Can you give me an example?”

“I was asked what I want to change.”

“What did you say, sweetie?”

“I wish you would listen more.”


Let that sink in.

Double ouch.

I went into serious self-evaluation mode. I tossed and turned at night; I couldn’t sleep. Several days after this conversation, I questioned her more about what she meant and how I could listen better. She eventually said, “You always listen to the big things, but not about the snack I want or how I want to wear my hair. Those little things are important to me too.”

I’m guilty. I wholeheartedly listen when she’s upset or we are discussing a serious issue. If a teachable moment pops up, I drop everything to have a meaningful conversation. But, throughout the day, when the background chatter is overwhelming, I categorize those as “small details”. I dismiss them, and I tune out.

As I prayed about what she had said, I realized something. I do the same thing with God. When there is a big storm in my life, I pray without ceasing. I read Scripture and cling to its promises. But, when everything is going well, and I’m dealing with normal day-to-day frustrations, I tune out from my relationship with God. I trust Him with the big storms, but not the small details of life.

When we originally had this conversation, it crushed me. I felt like a failure. But, now I realize — God used her to teach me a lesson.

“Simpletons only learn the hard way, but the wise learn by listening.” Proverbs 21:11
“Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.” Proverbs 18:15

I must learn to listen … to everything.

Do you remember Jesus’ first miracle? He was at a wedding reception, and the wine was almost gone. To the bride and groom, this was a huge deal. In the grand scheme of things, though, I would consider this a small detail. No one was dying. No one injured. No mass tragedy. To me, making wine isn’t on the same scale as raising Lazarus from the dead. I mean, they just needed more wine. It was a want, not a need.

Jesus still took the time. In John 2, He instructed the waiters to fill six jars with water. Each jar held 20-30 gallons. They then filled the pitchers and took them to the host. The host took a drink and shouted to the groom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

What seems small to others may be important, even life-changing, for you. Don’t minimize what’s important to you. If it matters to you, it matters to Him. He cares about every little detail. And, He will always listen.

Please Don’t Die

We had enjoyed a wonderful day together. We hiked, she beat us all to the finish line. We went to a carnival, I especially remember the fun on the water bumper boats. We rode horses on a beautiful trail. We had just finished dinner at Pizza Hut, then decided to play putt-putt before heading back to our hotel.

As we played putt-putt and laughed hysterically, she yelled, “Stop! I’m going to pee in my pants!”

So then, we began to plan her 40th birthday party. My half-sister and I joked that we would have “over-the-hill” signs everywhere!

As she stepped up to the eighteenth hole, something went terribly wrong.

She collapsed.

I caught her head, but she was unresponsive. My dad held her, and we went to get help.

In those moments, life seemed to stop.

I felt sick, like I had been kicked in the stomach.

Even now, remembering the memories, it plays in slow motion. SLOW.

I remember crying in the bathroom and repeating in my head, Please don’t die. I can’t tell your kids they’ve lost their mother.

That was 13 years ago on Father’s Day weekend. She was my step-mom. She had a massive stroke at 39 years old and died within 48 hours. It was a tragic and devastating loss.

There were no words for the numbness and pain.

Two weeks prior to her death, I was sitting in church and realized I needed to forgive both my dad and step-mom. It was in my heart, an urgent prompting like never before. Our relationship was not good, I was young and immature. To be quite honest, I was bitter and jealous.

I finally got up the courage to contact them. I apologized, and they did too. We cried. My gracious step-mom asked if we would like to go away for Father’s Day weekend.

She said, “We will start over as a family and re-build.”

That was the weekend she died. It was supposed to be a weekend of restoration and moving forward. It became even more.

I learned a major life lesson — Do what God asks now. Don’t procrastinate.

I was forever changed… the day she died.

God speaks directly to our hearts. The Bible tells us that He puts the Holy Spirit in our hearts to lead and prompt us, when we accept Jesus as our Lord.

In Acts 2:38, Peter says, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In Galatians 5:16, we learn to “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”

Our human nature tends to ignore God. We don’t want the hassle, don’t have the time, we simply don’t want to deal with our issues. It’s not always easy or comfortable to do what God asks.

No matter what, follow God. Listen for His voice. Seek His advice. Do what He asks now, and don’t procrastinate. I know from experience, you may not get another chance.