I have a friend who is the mother of two children, a boy and a girl. When they were 2 and 4 years old, daily — and sometimes hourly — they would get in to little fights. Naturally they would run to their mom to tell her their side of the story, hoping she would settle it and even vindicate them. This occurred nonstop and drove her crazy. So she bought a message board, and told the kids that every time they had a disagreement or fight about something to go to the board and write down their side of the story. Then, before they went to bed, they would discuss all the fights at one time.
The kids loved this. As soon as they had a problem, they ran to the white board and wrote down their frustration. Of course it amounted to a bunch of lines and scribbles because neither of them knew how to write. Then they resumed their play with each other. Brilliantly, it solved the problem! The kids felt heard, and mom went from solving problems all day to having fun with her kids. By bed time, all of the spats were forgotten, and never once did her children bring up the incidents of the day.
I learned a few lessons from this little story. First, sometimes we just want to be heard. If we feel like we have been pained or wronged in some way, we are not necessarily looking for solutions. We just want to speak our peace.
On the other hand, if we verbalize our every thought and take the time to whine, complain, elaborate and so forth, it can be self-defeating. We become so busy building our case or getting caught up in the negativity of the situation, that – before we know it – we have wasted a day or a season in our lives.
These two children ran to the message board, jotted down their complaints, who hit who or who wouldn’t share their toy, and then moved on. By evening their day was so full of good and cooperative moments, they forgot to bring their spats up to their mom at bedtime.
I realize their complaints might seem trite or inconsequential compared to ours, but the principle still holds true.
Instead of a message board, we have prayer.
We can go to our Heavenly Father at any given moment and share with him our feelings of hurt, betrayal, loneliness, our needs, triumphs, fears, challenges, as well as our joy. We will be heard.
Then, prayer gives us the ability to move forward. I can’t tell you all the times I have felt crushed, and at that moment I poured out my soul to my Father in Heaven. By bedtime, I was already enjoying a new mindset or a different perspective. If I had to hold on to that all day, all week, all year, it would have intensified my feelings so much so that they would have grown unbearable.
Prayer serves many purposes. Amazing books have been written on the power of prayer, and what a blessing it is in our lives. For me, at this season in my life, its greatest purpose is so that I can be heard, reassured, and emotionally and spiritually move forward.
So if you are tired of spending your days listening to your children whine, complain, tattletale and so forth, go spend a few dollars and buy a message board.
If you are tired of the hurt, sadness, pain and feelings of loneliness, then get on your knees and pour out your soul to your Heavenly Father. He will hear you, reassure you and give you the ability to move forward.