I exhaled. As the air passed from my lungs, I felt my shoulders slump and my butt slide toward the edge of the chair. I leaned my head against the back of my seat and stared forward through bleary eyes. I had stayed up too late the night before. I had to; nobody sleeps when they’re on vacation. We all do so much and try to have so much fun that we probably go home with more hypertension and less rest than if we had just stayed home and worked.

Compared to my lethargy, the man on stage was excessively animated. At least, that’s how it felt, but then again, I was half-asleep and lots of movement and fatigue don’t typically go hand-in-hand. To stay awake, I opened my eyes as wide as I could. The dryness of my eyelids felt made them feel as though they were about to snap like a couple of old rubber bands, pulled beyond the limit of their elasticity.

I sat up and tried to listen. He was talking about prayer and how it was a necessity to living a healthy Christian life.Β  I gawked at the stage seeing more than I was perceiving when a sharp movement jolted me awake. The preacher had been interrupted in the middle of a long sentence about needing to hear from God. It seemed as though someone had done something that caught his attention, because though he had come to lively halt, he turned slowly and stared out over the crowd.

“God just told me something.”

This seemed theatrical enough in both timing and exertion of energy that I questioned the truth of the statement. The man explained what the Holy Spirit had said to him, which for the point of this story, isn’t necessary to relate. I was dumbfounded. How could God talk when this man was going on and on? Isn’t it like talking to your friends? Don’t you need to shut up so they can speak?

Every now and again, someone will tell me that God told them something dramatic like, “God told me I’m going to marry so-and-so.” Or “The other day when I was watching {Insert famous preacher} on TV, God said that I’m going to preach to millions of people and I’m going to very famous and excessively rich.” When this happens, I typically don’t know how to respond. I don’t ever want to tell someone they didn’t hear from God. Who am I to judge what God does and doesn’t say to someone? I also don’t want to kill anyone’s faith in their ability to hear God. I can’t think of a robbery worse than that.

God communicates to me in weird ways. It isn’t always clear when He speaks. Sometimes He talks using music. If He’s really feeling crazy, He even uses {dirty} secular songs (OK, I say dirty sarcastically because obviously, ALL secular music comes from hell). Other times, it’s when I read (any kind of book) and sometimes, when I talk to people. I genuinely think God tosses me ideas. These change the trajectory of my thinking and words in such a way that they leave me sounding smarter than I really am- it’s super awesome. Other times, He keeps me up late at night and talks, even though I want to sleep.

I think to allow God to speak, you have to not only listen, but be honest about hearing Him. Nobody will think better of you if in the middle of a conversation, you jerk your head to the side, pop your left eye wide open, squint the other one and tell them it’s your God face. They’ll think you’re a drug addict or an idiot, especially if they aren’t a Christian. It’s probably easiest and best if you just talk to Him in a regular, conversational way. Oh yeah, just make sure you speak to Him more reverently than you do you friends, too.