I awoke to quiet voices in the kitchen. My husband and middle daughter were heading out for an early morning walk and I sent them off with a kiss. They returned as I was finishing up my morning exercises, and Anna poked her head through my bedroom door. “How was your walk?” I asked. She smiled, shrugged, and headed silently back down the hallway. “Well, that’s odd,” I thought. It was uncharacteristic for my middle daughter to say nothing, and even odder for her to walk away quietly. Anna is blessed with a lively, vibrant personality and I often have to remind her not to stomp through the house like an elephant on parade.
Minutes later I joined my husband at the breakfast table. I bowed my head and waited…and waited…and waited. I finally opened one eye, and discovered my husband already praying, not only silently, but alone. “What on earth?” I wondered, just a little frustrated. Whenever possible, we pray together, aloud, hand-in-hand. “Well, fine!” I grumbled silently. “Then I’ll just pray alone. Heavenly Father, thank you for this beautiful morning, the gift of another day to spend with my husband and my children. Help me to live for Your glory today, Lord, and Your glory alone. And please, flood my heart with patience for my husband and my daughter. Their unusual silence is really starting to annoy me. Amen.”
As I ate, I noticed my daughter occasionally glancing at my husband. Unexpectedly, she caught his eye and they both erupted into mischievous, delighted laughter, finally revealing their secret plot. Somewhere along their morning walk, they’d begun to wonder just how long it would take me to say something if they remained absolutely silent. “Oh,” I chuckled, chagrinned, “well, that explains everything,” and it also caused me to think.
I’d clearly misread my husband’s silence, wondering if he was upset with me and why. I’d allowed their uncharacteristic silence to seep into my morning calm and sow seeds of frustration, and I began to wonder how often I mistakenly jump to conclusions, misunderstanding someone’s words or actions because I know so few of their circumstances, so little of the situation. How often do I misjudge another’s heart intent? And who am I to judge them anyway? “But you, who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12b so wisely asks. Who am I indeed?
“Forgive me, Lord, for relying on my own finite, human vision and allowing other’s unexplained actions to affect my attitude. Thank you for the gentle lesson of an oddly unexpected silence to remind me again that it’s only as I rely on You completely, moment by moment, day by day that I will begin to see with the eyes of Your Spirit within me, able to discern what is good and right and important and true. Thank you for the blessing of being Your beloved child in whom You delight, created and shaped and consistently pruned by Your Hand. In Your Son’s holy and precious name, Amen.”