My wife and I recently spent a weekend with our adult son. He was just starting out on his career. I was prayed-up for the weekend, because my relationship with my son had been uneven in the past and I was working diligently to listen to God and to see my son as God sees him and to see my relationship with my son as God sees it, perfect, loving, harmonious and complete. We spent the winter weekend on a deserted island off the coast. The island is warm and bustling in the summer, but bleak, cold, windy and deserted in the winter.
As soon as we arrived, my son borrowed the car and drove to the only small store on the island to buy beer for the weekend. Despite my prayerful preparation, I began to compose a mental list of helpful advice I could give to my son. He drank the beer alone and slept late into the morning. He told us his career wasn’t moving forward and that he felt discouraged seemed disoriented. Before long I had developed an even longer and more detailed list of human advice (and some criticism disguised as helpful pointers) that I thought would be good for us to discuss.
I told my wife we could use the long car ride home to discuss his situation and the path of his career, and she immediately said that God would communicate to our son any needed advice much more effectively than we could. I said I agreed with that concept in general, but that I had prepared a very specific list based on experience! Thankfully, I did listen to my wife and I held off on any discussion about the situation.
On the way home, our son, who is very interested in comedy and modern performance art, suggested that we all listen to a podcast of his favorite young, improvisational performer. He hadn’t heard this newest podcast but wanted to share it with us based on what he knew of the past improvisational performances of the host.
The format of the new routine was as follows: the host would take phone calls from any caller in the U.S.; a caller could call and talk about anything and hang up at any time, the host would listen and respond but would not hang up under any circumstances for a whole hour.
We started the podcast. A call came through from a young man who was just starting out on his career, but who had found himself stuck in a dead-end job. He was depressed and had taken to drinking alone at night. The host listened intelligently, sympathetically and with great humor as the caller poured out a list of troubles – a list that seemed identical to my son’s. The host immediately recognized that the caller was willing to work hard to overcome his current difficulties – the host asked good questions and had concrete, mature and practical advice throughout the call, which lasted the full hour. At the 45-minute mark my son said, “This call is hitting pretty close to home; maybe too close!” We continued listening and the call ended just as we reached our destination. We stayed together for another hour, cherishing the time we had spent together. We made concrete and practical plans to help each other and work together, and our son gratefully accepted our love.
The good effects of our weekend together are still being demonstrated. I am very grateful for God’s gentle guidance and the wonderfully exact answer to our needs at that moment. I learned an important lesson about listening before jumping into the material dream and I was very grateful to be reminded of the precise and loving way that God communicates practically and directly to each of us.
I am so very grateful for this Association and for the incredible (and never-ending) privilege of class instruction.