As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
iListen (Approximate reading time: 9 Minutes)
The Most Important Thing
The show was in one week. All the kids were standing in the wings, in their positions ready for their first run through. Even though it was dark backstage, almost all of them had their noses in their scripts trying to memorize their lines and their cues.
The Director posed a question. "What is the most important thing you can do as an actor in a show?"
Kids started to shout out answers, "Know your lines... know your cues... improve if you don't know your line... stand open... don't forget your blocking... stay in character..."
"Yes, yes and yes," said the director, "all of that is important, but the most important thing you can do as an actor is to LISTEN. Not just for your cue, but to the content of what is going on. If you listen you will know where you are in the play, what your next action should be and it will solve almost anything you are facing so that the story can be told from the beginning to the end."
After rehearsal all I could hear running through my head was, "listen... listen... listen..."
"That sure was a great lesson for those kiddos," I thought as I drove home, "listening solves almost anything."
It's a great lesson for you too!
"It's a new game called Scramble!" my Aunt explained. "Unlike Scrabble our words cannot be found in the dictionary. They must be made-up words. You have to present the word and the made-up definition to the other players. After they have listened a vote will determine if you can make the play."
A game that emphasized my family's strongest qualities... debate and persuasion. I was only a teenager but the possibility of having a voice that could be heard over my aunts, uncles, and other family members gave me the butterflies.
Before the game started I knew that I had to get into character for this great show. Not only did I have to be thoughtful and creative with my tiles, I had to be ready to jump in with my words at just the right time to be heard, considered and understood. I had to excel in overlapping!
Overlapping: My personal made-up word that was unknowingly taught to me by my family before the game Scramble was even thought of.
Definition: Listening not to the content of what one is saying but rather to the cue of when to successfully interrupt and then doing it.
Learning the skill: As a student of overlapping, I studied family conversations for years. When a family member spoke, I perceived that others would be forming opinions and holding onto what they wanted to say rather than really listening. At just the right moment the cue would come and an attempt to intercede with a new thought or opinion would be made. If one came in too early the speaker would not stop and would over power. If one tried to come in too late then it was a missed cue and another family member would have stolen the stage. If one hit the spot just right then they could deliver their line. I knew I was getting better, I even figured out how to win an overlap with a stronger tone in my voice. For me, a satisfying moment in any conversation was when I finished a sentence. I thought that when I hit a period I had won a small victory no matter if I had lost the argument.
As the Scramble game started I knew that it was time to perform a family game of overlapping. Aunts, uncles, parents and cousins all sat around the dining room table getting their game face on. Silence filled the air as tiles were moved and arranged and players started forming their arguments for persuasion. At each turn a player presented their made-up word and definition. When they were done and as the laughter subsided it was like a director called out...
"The word needs to have an E at the end to make the sound you..."
"But then it would be a real word that means something diff..."
"I think the definition does not match the sound of the..."
"I think it's great, I would definitely use..."
"The second F is silent, that is why it wor..."
"There is no way a second F can be..."
"You are just trying to get to the triple word sp..."
"Listen to it in a sentence, 'Sometimes I muffel after I eat beans!' See, it just sounds like a..."
"Muffel does sound like what happens when you fart."
A finished sentence, laughter and then a vote.
The art of overlapping at its best. I really didn't realize then that this skill had also taught me something else. I learned the skill of interrupting in order to be heard. Thank goodness I don't do that anymore!
Listening solves almost anything.
"If you have laryngitis for no good reason then God is trying to tell you something. Shut up and listen."
This is what my older sister Cher told me years ago.
When I lost my voice after my daughter's last soccer game of the season this past fall, I remembered my sister's insight about laryngitis. Was it time to listen? It's always a good time to listen but I figured since I lost my voice for a good reason; screaming my full head off at the excitement of the nail biter ending to a close game, God was not trying to shut me up. My voice came back a couple of days later.
Three weeks ago I was spending many hours a day giving direction to children by helping with two separate stage productions as well as an acting class with multiple long rehearsals. My voice was on the go! I knew in advance that all of these events had some overlap time. When I had prayed about my involvement I received a peace about it; I would be busy for a short season and He would provide me with what I needed. In the middle of it all, God allowed some unexpected events to take place and additional responsibilities to land in my lap.
At first I questioned God, "Why would You give me the go-ahead if you knew these things would happen? I have worked so hard at making sure I am not doing too much and work only where you are calling me to!"
I decided that I would figure it all out as I moved along. Moving from appointments to rehearsals and back to appointments I posed questions that I hoped would help me find the lesson. Questions like,
"Was it really God's voice that gave me the go ahead?" He assured me it was.
"Who's strength was I relying on when I got the go ahead?" He assured me that I went into this season relying on Him and not myself.
"Had God allowed this all to happen to give me practice in leaning in on Him when things get tough?" I was leaning without a struggle to do so.
"Am I not asking for help, support and prayer? I am a part of a body of supporters." No to that as well. I have reached out and there are prayers covering me everyday as I move through this season.
As I prayed I asked question after question wondering when I would know the answer to why God allowed so much to be placed on my plate.
Then it happened. At first it was just a sore throat. By the next day my voice vanished into thin air. Laryngitis silenced me again. Like before I thought I knew why I had lost my voice and didn't think I was being called out. God allowed this busy season, of course I'm going to lose my voice with all the talking that this season requires!
Explaining my laryngitis away did not silence my sister's advice running through my head.
"It will come back," I cut her off with my thoughts. It did, but when my voice returned it was not the same. It was very hoarse which was almost worse than it being gone! I could talk but I sounded horrible and every time I did it put stress on my vocal chords.
"If you have laryngitis..."
"It takes time." I interrupted. One production ended and my voice was still hoarse.
"If you have laryngitis for no good reason..."
"Yes yes I know! It will come back by next week." I overlapped. The next week it was still hoarse.
"If you have laryngitis for no good reason then God is trying..."
"Okay okay. Are you talking to me Lord?" And with only a slight moment of silence I came in with, "When this acting class is over it will return. I mean I'm not seeing anything that I am doing wrong. He led me into this season and I have followed." The acting class ended and my voice was still hoarse.
"If you have laryngitis for no good reason then God is trying to tell you something..."
"If God is trying to tell me something then why can't I hear it? Every question I ask seems to have a God-honoring answer. What other question do I need to ask?" I thought, as I walked out the door to volunteer in my son's class, meet a friend for lunch and then prepare for a rehearsal that night. "My voice will return tomorrow!" I woke up no better than the day before.
"If you have laryngitis for no good reason then God is trying to tell you something, shut up and..."
"I'm down to one production," I thought, "I have a retreat this weekend and spring break is coming which will give me time to do nothing. I'll get better..."
Your nose is in your script.
A Discipline of Silence
Sharon looked around at the ladies that had come to the retreat. "Have you ever been given a discipline of silence?"
Over 80 women sat still while a small handful raised their hands.
"Oh good!" She said, "This is new for most of you. For the next half hour you are not to speak. Not one word. Do not text, answer your phone or start up any conversation at all. Read these two sections of scripture in Isaiah and then listen."
A good opportunity to rest my voice. I started to read through the scriptures when all of a sudden something stood out to me.
"...in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it..."
I stopped. Truth I couldn't deny silenced more than my voice. I had never become quiet. I was too busy trying to figure out the lesson on my own, filling all the space with questions, observations and duty. I had not been quiet before the Lord and trusted the space between the words. I realized that this discipline of silence was also silencing my thoughts. The urge to fill the space with thoughts of guilt were pushed back; I didn't dare think a thing as I read on. Another passage caught my attention.
"...the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefor he will rise up to show you compassion..."
Being quiet ushered in God's grace and compassion before I could get in the way. The discipline of silence was the lesson. I couldn't listen until it was quiet, until I stopped overlapping. Only then was I able to hear. Overlapping events is one thing, but overlapping my God is another.
I remembered the direction given to the children a few weeks back as they waited in the darkness of the wings, "What is the most important thing you can do as an actor in a show?" Answer: Listen.
"If you have laryngitis for no good reason then God is trying to tell you something. Shut up and listen." No overlapping, no playing scramble, just hush!
You are about to step into a new season. You have been prepared, you know your lines. What is the most important thing you can do as my daughter in your life?
It's For You Too...
Look at your iCalendar right now. Carve out a half of an hour for today, tomorrow or for very soon that comes BEFORE you pick up your TV remote. When the half hour arrives, click on the link below... and listen!