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Listen for the Voice

My kids talk. A lot. They’re not shy, and they have an overabundance of opinions.

They pretty much communicate in some way – words, songs, yelling – from the time they wake up to the time they fall asleep.

They share some really amazing things. (And some things I wish they didn’t!)

I freely admit, there is so much coming at me on a daily basis, I cannot digest it all. I hear, but I’m not always listening.

Yet every so often, one of them will say or do something so profound, so wise, I am sure it’s the Holy Spirit working through them, talking directly to me.

Little things

Recently I was chatting with my 6-year-old, giving a glowing review of a recent illustration he’d paired with a story. I told him that, unlike my artist husband (and all our children), I don’t have that artist gene. I can string some words together, for sure, but my super power is definitely not transferring images in my head to paper. I wish God had gifted me with such skill.

My son had been hopping from bed to floor and back, picking up toys and moving around, barely listening, or so I thought. He stopped suddenly and looked me straight in the eye. “Mama, you can’t say that,” he said with unusual intensity. “You need to believe in yourself!”

In that moment, I was hit by a feeling that made me think, Pay attention. This is something.

I assured him I have lots of talents but not everyone can be an artist. Again he made it clear he didn’t want me to repeat such a thing. I could practice, he said. I could do it. I can do anything!

The conversation left its mark, and I have thought about it often over the past few weeks. It was not ordinary.

I am fascinated when a message hits me right in the heart. It’s like a twinge, or sometimes stronger, that immediately grabs my attention right smack dab in the middle of a seemingly mundane moment. And I must listen. I almost can’t ignore it.

The day my son and I talked, I was feeling meh. Meh about how I was doing as a wife, mother, writer, friend. Our conversation stopped me in my tracks. It provided advice I didn’t know I needed. And the added layer of believing – truly knowing – its origin was beyond my little boy’s bedroom reminds me of the bigger picture. The bigger plan. God’s presence and power.

Big Things

Have you experienced this? Hearing or feeling a message and knowing, without a doubt, it’s the Holy Spirit? It certainly doesn’t happen to me regularly. But throughout my life, it has happened a handful of times. And it stays with me years, even decades later. An imprint you carry forever. It’s important, often life-changing, and God wants us to know it.

The most significant time was in college, when the Holy Spirit all but yelled, “Hey, you!” I’d been dating someone who, after a few months, decided he didn’t want to see me. He’d been in a previous long-term relationship and, although he said he cared for me, he needed space. I was heartbroken.

After weeks of crying and feeling sorry for myself, I got back to life. I threw myself into classes and leaned on family and friends. I accepted the fact he wasn’t “the one.” Or at least our timing was bad.

Some time later, I went out and there he was. I was on the other side of the room and didn’t have to speak to him. I knew I couldn’t. When my friends decided to walk home, I joined them. Halfway to our house, we heard a voice behind us. Someone was calling my name. It was him. My friend asked, was I going to stop?

Before I could answer, I felt something that I couldn’t ignore. I knew that if I didn’t turn around at that very moment and talk to him, my life’s path would be altered forever. It struck me like a bolt of lightning. A clear directive that I immediately recognized as extraordinary. I will never forget it.

So I stopped. We walked. We talked all night. And we got back together. Many moons later, we are still together, my best friend and me. Married. Kids. Walking the very path that the voice inside me, originating from somewhere divine, told me would change if I didn’t listen. Thanks be to God that I did.

‘This is the way’

Years later we talked about that evening and, without prompting, my husband admitted he felt an incredibly strong, extraordinary pull, a voice that told him he needed to go after me right then and there. No waiting. No finding me the following day. No delay. He needed to get to me without hesitation. It was now or never in a very real sense.

We both know it was the Holy Spirit at work, guiding us to where we needed to be. God is in control when it matters most.

Do you have your own story to tell?

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”  ~ Isaiah 30:21

Karin Gaffney Christensen lives in Upstate New York with her husband, their three children, and a White German Shepherd. A cradle Catholic, Karin has been re-energized by her faith in her roles as wife, mother, and catechist for her parish’s second-graders. Despite the chaos often present in her busy life, she is determined to keep God front and center, and to help her family continue to grow in the Catholic faith.

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