I spent last Sunday morning teaching a small group of fourth and fifth graders at church. This is a fun age to teach because they are old enough to have great conversations with and yet still (kind of) young enough we can joke around with each other.
Our lesson that day was on Faith vs. Fear. I said something like, “When I talk to God, I don’t feel as anxious or afraid of the future.”
Maddie, a new girl in our class, snapped her head up and her blue eyes widened.
“You’ve talked with GOD?!” she gasped. “What’s He sound like?”
I cocked my head, amused at her bewilderment and unsure how to answer. I guess I took hearing from God for granted. The more I thought about it, I suppose hearing from the Holy Spirit…the God of the universe… sounds like it should be pretty shocking and awe-inspiring. I could see why she was intrigued.
But recently I had an experience that gave me pause and made me wonder. Maybe hearing from the Holy Spirit doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be, and often is, simple and subtle.
Last fall, I committed to praying more intentionally. My goal was to invite more of the Holy Spirit into my life. Now to be honest, I wasn’t even sure what that looked like. Maybe I was expecting something more like what Maddie was expecting…something big…something loud…something life-changing. I grew up in the Lutheran church, and while we did make mention of the Holy Spirit in our creeds, there wasn’t much talk about Him being around. We didn’t invite Him to speak to us or even address Him at all.
Months passed, and I didn’t notice much of a difference.
As we danced through the whirlwind of another busy week, I sensed that I needed to incorporate more one-on-one talking time with my daughter. While we often chat about school and friends, it’s typically in the middle of cooking dinner or on our way to soccer practice when we’re both already distracted. I knew bedtime would be a good time to talk to her, however, I had been laying with my younger son each night before bed. (He’s been a terrible sleeper his whole life, and it seems to calm him).
That night, I tucked my son in and told him I’d be back. I slipped into my daughter’s room. Surprised to see me come in, she scooted over. I tucked myself in next to her, hugged her, and asked how she was.
She began to cry immediately. My heart broke and I pulled her close. When I asked what was wrong, she murmured that she was afraid the boys at the bus stop would think she was ugly in her outfit. My mind flashed back to when I was seven years old and in the first grade. I distinctly remember already worrying about what other kids thought of me, and I empathized with her. She loved school, but she was also dealing with being surrounded by pressures and values that may not match our own.
So we talked. We whispered to each other in the dim light of her lamp. I wiped her tears. I told her I knew exactly how she felt. I saw the relief on her face when she asked me, “Really? You remember?” I told her about when I was seven years old. I told her what I had learned about God since then. I reminded her of the Bible verse in 1 Peter that talks about how our beauty comes from within, our kindness and gentleness and love.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4
I pointed her towards her good friends who already love her and think the world of her. I told her all I wore growing up were jeans and t-shirts too. The sadness drained from her cheeks and was replaced with a slow grin of pleasure. I saw how happy it made her that we were so similar.
We prayed together, I kissed her cheek and switched her light off. As I left, she softly called, “Mom?”
She smiled and said, “Thanks for talking to me tonight. I feel a lot better.”
When I think of the Holy Spirit, a lot of what I’ve read in the Bible comes to mind. Flames, smoke, thunder, and speaking in tongues, but I am finding it might be quieter. It might be disguised as intuition or our “gut feelings.” Maybe before reminding Heidi of 1 Peter, I was first reminded…by the Spirit. Maybe without the thunder and earthquakes, I could hear the very voice of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
This instance reminds me that God’s purpose in sending us the Holy Spirit was simply to be our helper. He knew this life would be challenging and heart-breaking. I had been praying for God to help me be a good parent, and His help came in the form of an idea, an urging to pay attention, like a snap of the fingers in front of my face.
He simply reminded me. He caused me to see so that I could act.
God is patient and gentle with me. And with the help of His Holy Spirit, I can be the same with my kids.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26
Post by Jamie Hergott (CG West).