Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When They Ask Why

My Joey and I, we wanna parent with purpose. As we train and direct our treasures we want to be intentional with our words and be aware and mindful of the how's and why's of our responses to their questions.

"Why" seems to be the most common question under our farmhouse roof.

"Why do butterflies have wings?"
"Why does the moon shine so bright?"
"Why do I have to go to bed?"
"Why did Jesus have to die?"

"Why" is threaded through nearly every conversation and I've been thinking about the way that I respond...
Sometimes I answer them with a simple one-liner and they accept my words and move on with their day.
Sometimes I answer and they counter with a flood of more "whys".
And still other times I find myself getting all flustered with the never ending "Why" question.

I've been thinking about myself with my Jesus. Been thinking about the way that maybe I bombard Him with my "whys" and how He responds to me when I push in and insist on an answer, the way my children push into me each day.

I've been thinking about the events that He's brought that I've begged for answers, for an explanation and how more often than not He's given me very little explanation.

When I lost my mom nearly 11 years ago, I begged Him to tell me why.

When the nurse came in to see if I needed any help nursing our twin boys and I had to restrain myself from yelling at the kind old woman who clearly didn't get the memo. When we drove down a dark road with empty car seats in the back of our black pickup truck and paid the cremator for the tiny box of ashes, the only physical evidence that remained of our first two treasures. When we signed death certificates when we should have been signing birth certificates. "Why" was intertwined through every last prayer that came through my mouth that first year.

And in the depths of the things I wanted to understand most, His response was so different from what I wanted it to be. I wanted detailed explanations and all He said was, "Trust me. In this life, you're not always gonna know why but I need you to simply trust me."

And it's the same with the many small children under this roof. There are countless questions that can be answered quickly and simply. But there is an element of trust that
needs to be gained. Sometimes there's no time for an explanation, like when we're about to cross the street and I firmly direct them to stay next to me and don't let go. If there's no trust there and they disobey because of lack of explanation, I could have a squashed treasure on my hands. Other times I simply lack words, I don't know the explanation but I know that what I am asking of them is right and it's something that needs to be carried out quickly, them knowing that even though I lack words for them, my requests of them are trustworthy. And still there are other times when I myself don't know why. Oldest son asked me the other day while we were reading a very difficult part of the Bible where God told Moses to kill a group of people that had disobeyed Him, why God would ever want to kill anyone. And to be honest I had no idea how to explain the answer to that very real question except to say, "Son, I don't always understand the reasons behind God's decisions. But what I do know is that He is always just, and His decisions are always trustworthy. His ways are not our ways. And as the creator of this universe He understands things that we do not and will not ever understand."

Our hope, our desire, as their Mama and Papa is that through our daily interactions with our children we develop a trust between us and them that no matter what we are asking of them, they will be able to lean into and rest in the trust that we have between us, whether or not we are able to offer them an explanation as to why we are asking of them whatever it is that we are asking.
Christ models perfect trust, something that we as flawed sinners will never be able to model. But we can still strive for trust with the help of the Holy Spirit alive and well within us.

Consider a very small moment that happened today...

I simply asked my Reesie to come.

I was at the bottom of the stairs and she was in her room. Immediately I hear here respond with a winey, "Why" from the top of the stairs. "Please just come," I responded. Eventually she came down the stairs and she dragged herself over to where I was standing. And before I even bothered to ask her to do whatever it was that I was going to ask her to do, I just spoke gently to her...

"Reesie, when Mama asks you to come, I simply need you to trust me. And a way that you can show me that you trust me is by choosing to obey Mama the first time and come. I'm not always going to be able to tell you why, but by your obedience you're showing Mama that you trust that I know what's best for you. Do you understand?"

She says "yes Mama," and then I proceed to ask her to do what I had needed her to do.

Does she really understand? Probably not yet.

But it's not just a single conversation or a single explanation that's gonna mold these kids hearts in a hopefully godly direction. It's years of repeating, repeating, repeating. Years of living it out in my own life that's gonna mold their hearts. It's them witnessing me, as I learn the same lesson with myself and my Savior. As I learn to obey, to trust, often times without explanation that they too will learn to obey, to trust. It's the faithful work of the Spirit in them.

I don't need her to obey so that I can feel powerful or in control. I don't need her to obey so that I can look good to my neighbors. I don't need her to obey simply because "I said so." Instead I want to teach her to want to obey because at the root of obedience is trust. And trust brings hearts to life. Trust makes hearts free. Without trust, a heart can easily shrivel up and die. My hope is that my words and my actions towards her are trustworthy.

Today went on and I was thankful for the countless times that I was able to tell her again and again how much she would gain in this life if she learned obedience paired with deep trust. To come when I call her, being fully confident that I will only choose to ask of her what I know is best for her, just as the Lord purposes only to choose what's best for me. Even if I don't understand, I can always trust that He is always good.

And if I ask Him "Why" and He chooses to be silent, I can still always be moving forward in obedience, because He alone is trustworthy.

So when they ask you why...

Tell them that it's mainly about trust.

Tell them that sometimes in this life, God's gonna ask things of us and we're not gonna understand why. But regardless of our own understanding, He is trustworthy.

Tell them that a way that we can show God that we trust Him is by obeying and trusting Mama and Papa, with whom He's entrusted with the incredible privilege of gently leading you, through their own example as they daily give their lives to Christ.

#451- 471
Thank you for countless opportunities to speak truth to my treasures. For birthdays that become alters, days of remembering your faithfulness. Thank you for deep heart conversations with women who wanna know you more. Thank you the cowboy who holds me close in the dark hours in our safe-haven. Thank you that we don't always know why. Thank you that you're trustworthy anyway. Thank you for hope and purpose right smack in the middle of trials. Thank you for rain on a Monday in late June that brings life to our strawberries. Thank you for old farm trucks and memories made in fields, in love. Thank you Lord for you in this life. For homemade ice cream and friends on Father's Day. For Papa's that love deep. For pictures that capture the personalities of our kiddos. For hours of living adventure out doors. For new discoveries. For phone calls and texts and cards and emails that bless me on my 32nd birthday. For prayer on the couch... always prayer on the couch. For weekends away, treasure-less. For true friends who love on our kids while we're gone.