Parenthood most often starts with a wee little babe whose only ability to communicate is through noise, either the lack of it or the very real presence of it. This defenseless little being is either quiet and cooing or crying, with little time in between. (un)Rest assured it will not be in a peaceful, tears of silence and emotion rolling down the cheeks way, but rather in a loud and demanding I will only get louder until I'm helped way. And so begins the dance of lovingly doing what you can to make sure the balance scales dip much more deeply towards the quiet coo.
Years will go by and the dance that often brings your blood pressure rising will subside though the ring in your ears will not. Tears are still a constant, over things you completely understand and more things you can not for the life of you figure out. However, words have been learned and minds have come alive to the world around them and now the questions start. Everything in sight has hundreds of questions that can be asked about it. Don't believe me? Ask anyone who has been around a child for any length of time. Color, shape, reason for being, what it does, why is it there, where did it come from, can I jump on it, can I throw it, can you move it, can I eat it, is it alive, is it dead, what does that mean...and so on and so on until either this little inquisitor has moved on to the next item or you have somehow managed to attract their attention elsewhere long enough to get a drink because your mouth is so parched from the neverending explanations.
I love the questions. I really do. Watching anyone become awake to their surroundings and long to understand them in a fuller way is a beautiful thing because you can't learn unless you ask and it takes a certain type of courage to ask about something you do not understand. There's a good chance those feelings are a direct line from the teacher in me and if so praise God for it. But, with the divine trinity being the exception, there's usually a downside for every good thing and questions are no different. The minds that want to know why in a cheery inquisitive way share space with the why that eventually comes out not so cheery with its headstrong, disgusted, and usually whiny undertones. After so many of these but whys expressed in a nasally voice you'll hear coming out of your own mouth, after suppressing the two word phrase you'd love to say, the four words you swore you'd never say, "Because I said so!"
Equally as frustrating is when their one small need could be fixed if they had just asked for help instead of sitting still ignoring the situation, unsure of when to speak or taking care of the problem on their own resulting in a much bigger mess that needs to be cleaned up later. UGH!
My mind has still been thinking about words and the ways we should use them to be helpful both for ourselves and others. There have been many lessons recently among the blonde boys I get to hang around with questions as the topic. Most specifically how to use your words to form questions to get something you want or need instead of staring at me blank faced complaining or shoving something in my face with a demand. Holding a cup an inch from my nose saying "Get me milk" will get you nowhere but "Mama will you please fix me some milk" will most definitely be rewarded with the item you seek. Likewise a disgusted look along with the words "My book is gone" will you get you an I'm sorry on a good day and something quite different on a bad one, but "Have you seen my book" will grant you a far more favorable response. Delivery is everything and the heart behind it as well.
I'm not much different than my boys when it comes to complaints and questions nor are most other adults. It's easy to have teachable moments with kids both with everyday demands and heart shepherding issues because I am keenly listening to their words as they come out. The one I need to listen to more often is myself. It's very easy to slip into the habit of complaining about your surroundings and circumstances, filling your needs with people and things that do absolutely nothing to fulfill, or even getting hurt from the actions and words of others because you aren't asking the questions you need to be asking, the questions that will bring answers that help directed to the One who is the source of it all.
My days start in prayer. Well, most of my days start in prayer. In complete quiet and conversation with Him I feel at peace and filled with the fruit that only comes from abiding, thankful for my first moments being His. Then my day starts and I better hope I've been fueled enough because as I go about my way I forget to come back to the source I so desperately need to draw from. And in effect I begin to do the very things I have been teaching my children not to do. I smile, I talk, I produce, I accomplish, I demand, I complain, I get hurt, I buck up and try again, I whine, I escape. I seldom stop. I seldom ask. My words are not questions fueled by a desire to heal my soul or to grow in righteousness.
In a quick search on asking questions I found this quote by Shannon Adler, Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, "What else could this mean."
I am well aware what a change that one simple act would make in my relationships here on Earth, but how different would my days be if in every moment, every joy, every struggle instead of complaining or coasting through, I lifted my eyes to my gracious Creator and asked "What else could this mean, what else are you trying to show me through this?" We are promised that He is at work. In the height of persecution towards him in John 5:17 Jesus said "My father is working until now, and I myself am working" beginning that "good work that will be carried to completion in us (Phil. 1:6)"
We crave quick fixes, we search for instant relief from our troubles, we long to escape, internally for some and externally for others. We covet lives that appear easy which coincidentally means lessons are never really learned but plenty of bandaids are unwrapped in an attempt to cover up the gaping holes. I pray that I will stop and that you will stop, and ask. That we will use our words to form those questions that will shape our lives and shape our hearts and shape our actions that will bring us closer to God and that will make His glory known to those around us as they see the effect it has on our lives.