Piggybacking off my last post…I experienced a reminder through parenting my teens.
There are Christmas songs people love, and there are Christmas songs people love way less. Annually I find myself in arguments about certain songs. Songs I love less when a handful of people passionately love them more. “Christmas Shoes” would be one, and “Mary Did You Know” is probably the one that gets people the most riled up. I don’t like that song. It poses a question and my soul screams, “Yes! She knew!” but the song just keeps asking. If I take an actual theological approach to this song there might have been layers of awareness that would have been absent from Mary, but just on a surface listen…it drives me crazy. It’s so dramatic.
The other day I had a conversation with one of my kids that brought to mind another Christmas song that asks a question, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” And the answer is, “No.”
No, teenagers, and maybe just all the people, don’t hear things the way your heart cries out. Some times you communicate better, some times people hear better, but it’s super tricky and I’m always surprised by my own surprise when I realize my kids don’t hear what I’m trying to say.
I can say 20 encouraging things, say “I’m proud of you” daily, and when I say “You’re room is a mess.” All the sudden I am “always so demanding and never encouraging.”
A few weeks ago one of my kids shared an observation, “Mom, I’m not like you, just reading the Bible and believing everything without questions. I’m more like Dad.”
Do you even know us!?! You’ve got that reversed. I have so many questions. I have wrestled with so many things. Sal has a way less question-ey approach to his faith. But that’s just not how they hear it.
And what parent doesn’t love when a youth leader, teacher, or coach says that one thing you have been saying for years but all the sudden they can hear it!?
Or how about those of us with multiple children that hear, “He/she is your favorite!” That is the only thing they perceive.
In my own immaturity…I have found myself reverting when communicating with my parents. I put on “bratty 16 year old” headphones to listen to what they are saying.
The answer to “Do you hear what I hear?” will always be “sorta” at the very best, and often, a flat “nope.”
The developmental value of hearing, recognizing, and attaching to a caregiver, is super essential to survival, hardwired into creation. It’s easy to see why we need to connect neurobiologically. But how that plays out in adult development is fascinating as well. There are studies that reflect a growing theory that the bonds we so needed early on for survival remain but have different implications later in life, making it difficult to clearly hear the parental voices in our lives.
I wonder if the frustration of the prophets and apostles is similar; the ache that must be present when you are sharing a message. You see something so clearly, and they may seem to be listening but they don’t seem to hear. So you repeat. You keep trying.
Isaiah 42:20 “Your ears are open, but you do not listen.”
My initial response when my son explained to me how I “never say__________” and I “always say _____________.” was to defend myself and present my mental tally of what I have and haven’t said. But I just didn’t. At that moment, he could only hear what he wanted to hear. Maybe later it will be different. Maybe not. That reality doesn’t/shouldn’t have any impact on me working to be the best parent I can, and working to be accountable to God alone to set that standard moment by moment. There is a release and freedom that comes from realizing your kids have their own unique journey with God that you cannot control and that involves how they hear. Just…
So, yes, Mary did know. And no, I/they/we do not hear what you hear. But God is aware of all that, and beyond capable of clarifying what we do hear, when we are ready to let Him lead in that space.