Has anyone seen my new sweater?
Sister: You mean the one you won’t let me wear?
Grandma: You mean the one with the low neckline?
Brother: You mean the ugly one that makes you look fat?
Father: You mean the one that cost me $60?
Mother: You mean the one which has to be washed by hand in cold water?
As a dad, I’ve definitely been guilty of hijacking the moment for the sake of an agenda—like an activist using crime-scene drama to make a point. If you’re an eavesdropper like me (I think of it as research), you’ll often hear opportunists hijacking the moment. Like this bit from Brian Regan:
Learning to listen well
Makes me think of Nicolas Herman, a French monk from the early 1600’s, widely sought for his wise counsel. Even as the chief cook and bottle washer in an obscure Monastery, authenticity and transparency made him popular then and famous even now as, “Brother Lawrence.” How?
He knew how to stay in “their moment.” He listened well.
Staying in “their moment” means checking your own agenda, feelings, and insecurities enough to listen between the lines. It’s the regular practice of any lover of souls. Brother Lawrence never took a Dale Carnegie course, received a counseling degree, or ran for office. But everyone wanted time with him for his “non-anxious presence.” Years later, after the prodding of many friends, Lawrence explained the key to his character.
His book, The Practice of the Presence of God outlines his daily ritual driven by a singular passion: a life of ceaseless prayer.
No earthly good?
You may wonder how prayer would make someone so effective with people? After all, isn’t there a saying about being “so heavenly-minded that you’re no earthly good?” That expression nails self-righteous people; and many of us fear this same defect if we take faith too seriously. But Brother Lawrence kept his gaze elevated without exalting himself, or pulling away from everyday life and people. Possible?
C.S. Lewis brings a great summary:
If you read history you will find the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither. (Mere Christianity)
A life centered on self shrinks; a life truly centered upon God has an ever-increasing circumference. In this season of family and friends… Will you be in their moment?
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