A few weeks ago when I was on a road trip with my friend Kelly and her two sons, we stopped to get gas, buy some snacks, use the restroom. You know, all the things road travelers try to squeeze in any time they exit the tollway.
Kelly had taken her youngest, Jensen, into the ladies room, and I was with Alex.
“Do you have to go potty?” I asked him.
He stared at me, choosing his next words carefully.
“No,” he said. “And I don’t even call it ‘going potty’ anymore.” He was clearly perturbed.
“Oh,” I responded, not exactly surprised. He is almost seven. “What do you call it?”
“‘Going to the restroom,'” he said.
Two weeks later, I was at their house celebrating Jensen’s birthday, and Alex was kind of dancing around a little. I’ve done that same dance myself when I am at the grocery store, and I’m just about done, and I’m not sure what to do with the cart.
“Alex, do you need to go potty?” I asked, just a second before it hit me. “I mean, go to the restroom?”
His face lit up. I had heard him. I remembered.
Hearing and remembering can be a wonderful gift to others. I am always amazed and pleased when someone I have met only a time or two remembers my name and the things I have told them about myself.
Being forgotten? Not so much.
Recently, I strolled into the gym I belong to, duffel bag in tow, and swiped my card. The employee behind the desk was the one who actually had registered me for my new bar coded card a few weeks before. He smiled as though he remembered me, watched as my profile popped up, and said, “Have a good work out, Charity.”
Before I could even say “thanks,” he continued excitedly.
“Wow, my fiance’s name is Charity, too. I’ve never met anyone else by that name.”
“Anyone but me,” I wanted to say, since he obviously had forgotten that he told me the exact same thing when I met him six weeks ago. Maybe he should put that kind of information next to my name under my bar-coded file. Then, maybe he would remember.
Instead, I just kind of laughed and blew off the comment.
I wonder if Jesus does the same thing when I am reading his word and suddenly have a major epiphany over a passage I’ve read a dozen times. Does he just laugh it off as he remembers all the times I’ve covered this truth before — in fact, the passage may even be highlighted in my Bible? Does he just blow it off when I ask him to speak to me even though I’m obviously not really listening, not remembering? Does he wish I had a bar-coded reader that would help me remember His name?
Sometimes truth feels new because it has a new application. A new season of suffering helped me read the Psalms differently a few years ago. In that case, I was really hearing truth for the first time because I was listening from a different place.
Often, though, I don’t remember because I’m not really caring enough about Jesus to absorb what he’s telling me. I read through chapters so I can check them off the list. I spend hours in scripture preparing to teach rather than preparing my heart. I work on memorizing a Bible passage while I scan my email.
But giving Jesus my full attention so that I’ll remember what he said? Not so much.
This weekend, I will probably be with Kelly and the boys at some point. And there will inevitably be a potty break involved.< But because I love Alex and have heard him — have heard that he’s trying to tell me he’s growing up — I’m not going to call it that.
There will be only “restroom” breaks for us from now on.
Today, I am writing in community with Ann Voskamp and friends, discussing the spiritual practice of listening and hearing God. Follow the link above to read Ann’s thoughtful post and then scroll to the bottom and see what others have written.