Here I Am: Why Parents Should Listen For And Act On Divine Inspiration
When God first speaks to prophets in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, he calls to them by name, and the prophets generally have the same short, affirmative, beautiful response:
“Here I am.”
I find beauty in this response because it indicates a readiness and willingness to interact with the divine. The person responding is essentially revealing they understand there is no barrier between the natural world and the spiritual world. Why else would they respond so readily and so willingly? Also, the person responding is fully present (“here”), and therefore able to recognize the voice of God.
So, in order for us to become attuned to hear this voice, we have to acknowledge the Great Mystery of the world—that there’s a lot more going on here than we can see and understand—and we have to live our lives in a way that allows for mindfulness.
Our best ideas come to the surface in times of solitude or rest: in bed at night, in the shower, on the commute to work. But we’re frequently looking for some form of entertainment to distract us, thereby creating a constant static that prevents us from being able to hear and understand our own thoughts and feelings. Too often, we’re running from ourselves.
If we make space in our days for ourselves to just be present with our thoughts and feelings—whether through a guided meditation, a prayer, or even a reflective pause after we read something—we allow ourselves to be ready and willing to hear the voice of God.
The more we do this, the more clearly we can hear God’s voice. I don’t mean this in a creepy way. If a person tells you they’ve literally heard the voice of God, then of course you might look for the nearest exit. What I’m talking about here is the voice inside you that you know is your True Self—your soul, your spirit, your essence . . . who you really are. The True Self can be elusive sometimes, and it can be difficult to trust. We’re all well-practiced in ignoring our intuition.
We have to actively try to become more fully ourselves—our True Selves—in order to hear what God has to say. Because if we know who we are, then we can recognize God’s voice when he calls to us by name, and we can respond to that call in the way of the prophets: “Here I am.”
This has far-reaching implications for us as parents. Because we have children under our care, I would argue that we have a responsibility to know who we are.
Through the birth and continued development of our children, we have witnessed the Great Mystery of life unfold before our eyes. Even those parents who are most skeptical of religion and/or spirituality must sense that their child, and the love they have for their child, transcends what we understand about this world, and that this little one is too beautiful to ever truly stop existing. It’s a reminder—maybe the best possible reminder—that there’s more going on here than we can understand.
To paraphrase the theologian John Philip Newell, having a child also reminds us to think about ourselves when we first came into the world, before we experience a whole host of small and big hurts. In this way, we begin to understand the sacredness of our own lives—that despite what we tell ourselves sometimes, and despite where and who we’ve been, we are not inherently bad. At our core, we are good—and we can feel that the universe wants us to be even better.
Acceptance of this is a big step toward a more fully realized you. And your child desperately needs you to be who you’re supposed to be, because if you’re not, then all sorts of problems appear. You’ll find yourself anxious or resentful without understanding why, and this will inevitably come out against the people closest to you, including—maybe even especially—your child(ren).
But if you know who you really are, then you’ll be able say “Here I am” when God calls your name, and then you’ll be able to hear where you need to go. Things won’t always go smoothly on the journey forward—they often don’t—but you’ll be able to make decisions that model for your child what it means to live well, and you’ll be able to respond to their needs in a way that helps them move in the direction they need to go, too.