Potty Training and Learning Silence
One of the biggest challenges to the way I perceive myself and my relationship with God has been my relationship with my daughter. I am a Quaker to the core, but somehow my daughter shows me up for the authoritarian judge waiting to strike down the disobedient that lurks under the surface. We are currently going through the joy/trial of potty training which can also be defined as vainly striving to find something that will entice your child into not leaving deposits wherever they feel like it any more. The process of potty training my daughter is now showing me what it was like for God to silence train me.
The first steps involve trying to make the potty “fun”. “Here kid look at these great books you ONLY get to read on the potty. Oh look you sat on the potty have a sticker.” “Hey Gil if you just shut-up for a minute you get to hear all kinds of neat stuff. Look here’s a divine insight.”
From here you move to the demonstration phase. “Look this is how Mommy and Daddy go to the potty. Watch carefully and you can see how! Why don’t you try?” “Hey Gil listen to that ‘weighty friend’ see they just spoke into your life. Listen carefully and try not to brain babble and you can speak too.”
After the demonstration phase is the learning/grace period. This period is marked (snicker) by wet pants, Febreeze, and environmentally devastating amounts of laundry. In learning silent communion this period is marked by thinking out loud, being assisted in learning discernment by concerned Friends and emotionally devastating amounts of humble pie.
After the grace period comes the awkward phase of frustratingly close to getting it. In potty training this is marked by wet pants at inconvenient times, dank aromas that mysteriously appear in long car trips and having your blood pressure elevate whenever you see your child concentrate. In silence this is the phase I tend to live in. Knowing that sometimes I speak from my internal process rather than divine prompting, that I sometimes am shutting down others who do have a word or that I am trampling on an intended silence, and occasionally being in tune with the Spirit.
Eventually you get potty trained and accidents only happen when you are sick or otherwise not in full control of your faculties. I am not sure that I will ever get completely silence trained, but I am learning and the frustration is diminishing and God is much more patient with me than I am with my daughter. I just wish both of us can stop spewing stuff all over the place and learn to release in the places in our lives where it is appropriate.