I have often heard and/or started this question with exasperation, anger, frustration, and aggravation. Have you ever heard someone say or said to someone else: how many times do I have to tell you…? My guess is that you have and that at some point you have even said these words.
Perhaps the opening question was paired with one of the following: tie your shoes, don’t pick your nose, there are no monsters living under your bed, do your homework, don’t bite your nails, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds every time you use the bathroom and before you eat, of course that’s not a poisoned apple, rinse your dirty dishes before you put them in the sink or the dishwasher, clean clothes belong inside your dresser not on top of it, wipe your feet on the mat before you come inside, the big bad wolf is not knocking at our door, use your silverware, wipe your mouth off with your napkin not your sleeve, stop shouting, speak up, share your toys, pick up your books, stop hitting, kicking, whining, settle down, don’t run, calm down, buck up, leave your scab alone, pick up the mess you made, your milk is to drink not pour on the floor, turn out the lights when you’re not using them, say grace before meals,
stop blowing bubbles in your chocolate milk, even princesses have to follow rules, remember to say please and thank you, chew with your mouth closed, don’t put your shoes on the furniture, eat your vegetables or you won’t get dessert, don’t laugh when someone gets hurt…
We don’t like it when people don’t listen to us. We want to be heard, have our thoughts and concerns noted, and our feelings accepted as valid. When we have to repeat things over and over again, we get frustrated, whether young or old.
Sometimes I’m so busy critiquing my own thoughts and actions as well as correcting and guiding those of the young people left in my care (and truth be told, also advising and making suggestions to my husband) that I’m not as good about listening. I know. It's shocking, right?
I make the same mistake in my prayer life all the time. I go to God with all of these people, concerns, situations, and requests, but I don’t spend nearly as much time being still and listening. It’s so flipping difficult sometimes to allow myself time to be in the Presence of the Lord rather than bouncing from one item on my to-do list to another.
How many times does God have to tell us to slow down, make time for Him, pray, listen more, worry less, accept His unconditional love though we don’t deserve it and could do nothing to earn it, receive His limitless mercy, embrace His forgiveness and compassion, know that He will never leave us or forsake us, be not afraid, let Him be our strength, He will turn our tears into dancing, our night into day, our struggles into blessings…?
This is one of my all-time favorite songs, definitely a perfect one for my life, by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. It's called "So You Would Know," but you'll recognize a number of questions asked in a totally different way.