They can’t hear you.
My family is a big fan of the character Gibbs on the TV show NCIS; Gibbs with his list of rules.
His list caused me to develop my own. Threadgill rule number 9: people can’t hear a large percentage of what you say—even if said directly to them, even if said multiple times, even if said at escalating volumes.
We held our annual THEO graduation on Saturday. Graduation was a success, which isn’t a surprise since preparations last nearly nine months. As always, it was shocking to hear the parents at rehearsal. “Oh, I am going to give the student their diploma?” “Oh, rehearsal started at 8:55?” “My husband and I are going to be on the stage?” It doesn’t matter how many times and ways I try to tell them, some of these parents cannot hear what our THEO graduation looks like until they experience it.
The parents paid money to join this event. It wasn’t forced upon anyone. They choose to sign up, even filled out a special graduation application form, and still, they didn’t know what they signed up for because their ears cannot hear.
How often do I do the same thing? Sign up for something without knowing what I have committed to because I cannot hear other people?
Working with teenagers every day, I am used to not being heard; nonetheless, it is always surprising when confronted with the fact adults cannot hear me either. Warning: They don’t hear you any better than me!
At Church on Sunday, one of my fellow volunteers was admonishing me to talk to one of my sons about a particular early adult issue. She looked quite surprised when I said I didn’t have any plans to, asking me exactly what I thought my role as parent was supposed to involve.
I started by saying that he is now an adult, in his early 20’s, in fact. It isn’t any of my business. She said yes, it is. Parents’ job is to warn. I agreed with her but said his mind is made up. My husband tried to talk to him; my mom tried to talk to him. He can’t hear us and I am not going to waste energy or breath. More importantly, the relationship is too precious to me to risk hurting it over something I know he isn’t going to listen to anyway.
Undaunted, she told me a bit of her story, and then again, encouraged me to visit with my son. She even went so far as to say, “I wish my parents had told me, talked to me more about what they saw as the warning signs in my life when I was in my early 20’s.” I said to her, gently, maybe they did. Maybe they tried, maybe you didn’t hear them. She was silent.
At certain points, we have made up our minds and nothing will penetrate our thoughts or plans . It is like our thoughts and plans are on one set of railroad tracks headed for a point in the distance. Nothing short of an atomic bomb can blast us off of those tracks. Additional facts are unable to enter the equation in our brain even though our ears work fine.
This spring God used our Bible Study of James to open my ears a bit, to help me unlock my brain and blast my thoughts onto some new railway tracks. My thought patterns are one some new tracks headed to a new destination.
Countless times since January, I have been driving down the road, talking to God about my latest drama when He has broken into my head to connect the dots for me. Dots between scripture such as James 1:2 “Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials….” I have physically turned my head upward, like a child to a parent, “Oh, you mean don’t grumble when the a/c begins to leak at my house on my newly textured and painted walls and ceiling?” “Oh, you mean don’t grumble when the THEO a/c breaks for the third time this spring?” Really Lord, this is how you want to spend Your money?
Yes Terri. This is exactly what that scripture means.
Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result.
“Oh, you mean don’t whine aloud, or even inwardly, when situations do not resolve themselves immediately?”
The applications for Rule #9 are endless. Already it has saved me a lot of time, and breath, not to mention my new destination. Since God has blasted my thoughts onto new train tracks, we all know new tracks lead to new places.
Have you ever noticed that some people (i.e. me but also others) can talk incessantly, only repeating themselves again and again like an old fashioned record with a scratch? My theory? At their core they know the truth. No one is listening, a frightening thought. No one is listening to me, my opinions, my ideas. If my ideas don’t count, then maybe I don’t count.
No, surely not. I should repeat myself. Maybe they were not listening because they didn’t hear me, because they were distracted. Let me repeat myself—again and again.
I now talk less.
But I also think I have gained a new appreciation for the first of the 12 steps of addiction. I am powerless over other people.
Funny, this sounds like a solid foundation for turning to God, the One who is not powerless. But that is a topic for another day of exploration…