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The Meaning of the Hebrew Word “Selah”, and How I’m Applying it to Motherhood

I can hear her call over my shoulder, and my ears are tuning it out. There is music playing somewhere on my phone, and I can’t quite remember where I last set it down. The blender in front of me is whirring, as I make smoothies for my little girls for lunch.

All of these sounds blur together, as I tune into the small voice behind me. Mom, mom! She is asking for help again, expressing what she needs, just as I have taught her too. But my brain only slightly registers it, barely comprehending what she is asking me to do. But then, when I look at her little face, my eyes meeting hers, I realize something. I have taught her to come to me for help, but I have stopped listening. Somewhere in the noise of motherhood, my ears gave up, my heart was overwhelmed, and I simply stopped listening. 

Austin recently preached on humility, deeply convicting my heart in a way that few other messages have as of late. He shared about how humility results in thinking about others, and being attentive to their needs. As he said it from the pulpit, I knew it was true of my heart. I knew that I had grown in self-centeredness simply because I stopped listening to my children.

And so I am recommitting to listening to my children, not just for the sake of my own growth in humility but because it’s the sort of home culture that I want to foster. I want my children to know that they have voices and that their feelings matter. I want them to come to me for help, and I am only able to affirm that I am able and willing to help them when I listen to what they are saying. I also want them to know that listening is a sign of respect, that we don’t interrupt one another at the dinner table, that we listen to each other, as we share what our day was like and what we are feeling. And I can only ask this of them as I model it for them. Which means when they’re sharing about the Bluey episode that they watched that afternoon, and how they were sad that the show had to end, I give them my full attention. I need to listen to what they’re saying, digest it, and respond to it. 

There is a biblical word for listening and responding, and we see it throughout the Psalms. This Hebrew word is Selah, and it means to listen and reflect, or to listen and respond. You will see it in several of the Psalms at poignant moments when the Psalmist wants the reader to stop and digest what was just being said. So this word has been on my hand, and on sticky notes throughout my house. I want to stop and listen, consider what my children have said, and respond. Not only because they bear the image of God, but also because they are worthy of being listened to. They are worthy of my respect and response. I pray that this word not only grows me in humility, but also reminds me of what it means to listen to the Lord, how to hear his word, and how to respond.

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