As many people know, Karin and I have two adult daughters: Ingeborg (24) and Lieselot (22). What not everyone is aware of is that our treasures are extremely different in a number of areas. They also look quite similar, but as soon as you meet them, you immediately know that they are different.
Powerful, grateful and loved
Ingeborg is the eldest. A dynamic, powerful girl full of initiative, who has developed enormously. Sporty, eager to learn and strong in languages from an early age. She speaks fluent Spanish and recently became an English teacher at a Luzac College.
Lieselot is completely different. She has had a mental disability since birth, which means she now has the development of a seven-year-old. This makes her very vulnerable, needs guidance and often lacks the initiative that her sister possesses. At the same time, she is heaven on earth in her joy, gratitude and complimentary attitude. Everyone who meets her knows and experiences this.
Although they are so different, it is of course impossible that I would love one more than the other. I love them unconditionally because they are my children. Regardless of capacity, character or development.
Yet I don’t treat my daughters the same way. When I want to discuss something with them or tell them a similar story, I choose a different method of communication for each of them.
I have the best conversations with Ingeborg when we go out for dinner together. We used to do that in the hours before we went to an Ajax match together. Along the way we looked for a cozy place where we would first enjoy a nice steak. And as soon as the meal started, Ingeborg immediately said: ‘What are your questions, Dad? Say it!’ We regularly had deep conversations there.
Things are different at Lieselot. I have the most beautiful dialogues with her when I sit on the edge of her bed. Usually it starts with a few questions and short answers, until she gets into it and sits up. A huge smile appears on her face and suddenly the chatter starts and she asks me the questions. Delicious and so disarming.
Because I love my children so much, I have tried to understand them better over the years. Because because I have discovered how they prefer to communicate, I do my best to do it that way. This is how I can best reach their hearts, make them feel my love and positively influence their lives. I make a conscious effort to understand them better and better, because that helps them to receive my questions or stories more easily.
That principle is literally Stephen Covey’s 5th characteristic : ‘ First understand, then be understood ‘. Covey discusses this in detail in his world-famous book ‘The 7 Habits of Effective Leadership’. Thousands or even millions have read it and learned from it. Maybe you too. Yet you must realize that this principle was not invented by Covey. God is the Creator. It has been a kingdom principle for centuries, of which God is the Creator.
To get up early
I used to think, after a sermon or study about quiet time, that I also had to get up an hour earlier to meet God. With pain and difficulty I lasted a week. Result: Headache, enormous fatigue and barely experiencing anything from God. It doesn’t suit me because my body can’t handle it well. I need a lot of sleep, sometimes up to ten hours a night.
If anyone knows that I am like this, it is God himself. He invented me. Therefore, my time with God is not at six in the morning, but when I am walking outside or sitting at the piano when no one is home. Because God made me this way, He speaks to me then. He understands and knows me, so God knows exactly how to convey a message to me.
Communicating with My Children
God wants to communicate with you, in your way. John writes, “ The sheep listen to his voice; he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out ” (John 10:3). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows you by name. He knows exactly what you are like, because every sheep is different. You are 100% loved and yet so different from all the others. And He wants to speak to you, ask you questions and influence your life in your own way.
Don’t be fooled by ‘how it should be done’ or ‘how things are going for others’. Open your ears where you can hear Him best. In the silence, while reading, with music, in an empty church, during a walk, lying on the couch or quietly in a monastery. Or maybe in a completely different way, but that is precisely where God wants to talk to you. Exactly so that you can receive it optimally! He loves you so much that He communicates like this with each of His children.
Want to know more about Intimacy with God? This book by Martin Dol is recommended.