A Dad Learns to Listen
A Modern Take on James 1:19
Hi, I’m Dean Andreola, a homeschool dad and regular guy. My wife Karen and I began our homeschool journey around 1985. Well, okay…I’m a homeschool dad and an old regular guy.
As a regular guy it is hard for me to appreciate knitting. My wife reads knitting magazines. She is quite good at knitting. When we went to our county fair a few weeks ago, Karen headed for the needlework exhibit with me in tow. She said; “Dean, bring the camera over here. Please take a picture of this. Isn’t it cute? Isn’t it adorable?” There were little old ladies all around. I was getting impatient because I wanted to see the diesel generators and the 600 pound pumpkin at the other end of the fair. I cringe at words like “cute” and “adorable”.
And I didn’t know what “it” was that I was supposed to be taking a picture of. It might have been some kind of pot holder. But I wasn’t certain. The day Karen knits me a holster for my Smith & Wesson Model 686 I may take an interest in knitting. Ah, that reminds me…
I was puttering around an online gun review forum the other day and spotted this amusing but accurate saying, mixed in with reviews and the usual gun chit-chat: “Half of communication is listening, and you can't listen with your mouth.” That got me to thinking….hmmm…where have I heard this before?
“Half of communication is listening, and you can't listen with your mouth”. Sounds a bit like James 1:19-20. (NKJV) So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Homeschool moms are arguably some of the hardest working, most patient people on the planet. They may not seem as patient when you get home from work. They have already spent the golden hours of the day educating, disciplining, encouraging, researching, cleaning, cooking and ministering in all sorts of ways. Karen would often choose the time just before dinner, as pots were simmering on the stove, to fill me in on all the activities of her day. Why did she choose this time? Realistically speaking, what other time did she have? Looking back, I can’t say that I was always the most patient listener at that particular hour. After all, I didn’t go to work to hide in a closet all day…I was busy too, and like the old cartoon character Elmer Fudd, I was looking forward to good food and “peace and quiet at waaast”.
It is not easy to be “quick to listen and slow to anger” especially during inconvenient times. Homeschool moms understand inconvenient times, but that does not mean they thrive in them. Moms can also feel isolated. They often don’t speak to another adult until you come home! Scary, isn’t it? Patient listening to our wives and children before and after the dinner hour is a small price to pay for us dads for fulfilling the requirements of James 1:20; namely producing “the righteousness that God desires.” It also gives our wives an opportunity to vent their emotions in a healthy way. Wait; do I hear some of you saying that wives shouldn’t have such emotions? If we regular guys were in the house all week doing our wife’s job, I’ll bet we would have a few emotions of our own. This is our opportunity to put a smile on our wife’s face, or give her a shoulder to lean on. It may take a while to build our listening skills, but the reward is worth the effort. Homeschool dads are called upon to be leaders and educators. James 1:19 adds one more crucial item to the list: Encouragers through patient listening.
Okay, I give up…I’m falling under conviction. The next time Karen asks if we might stop into that “sweet little yarn shop”, I won’t feign hard-of-hearing, I guess I’ll turn the wheel in that direction. No really, I mean it!
Until next time, Karen Andreola