This is part 5 in a series on The Family
For part 1, click here
For series synopsis, click here
Dad, why does a spider spin its web?
Dad, why are the clouds shaped like a dinosaur?
Dad, why didn’t that cat make it across the road before it was squished?
The questions of a child. When I was 3 or 4, (in the days when seatbelts were merely an accessory to be tucked back behind the seat, out of the way), I rode with my Dad in our truck. I stood on the seat bench, wedged between his right shoulder and the back of the seat.
And the world was open to me, moving by us almost faster than I could keep up with.
I’m not sure I even waited for the answers. Knowing me as I do, I probably provided most of them myself.
I was quite the fountain of knowledge.
My Dad called me his “commentator on board.”
I credit this foundation for the fact that today, I consider myself a question asker. I learned very young that a curious mind is a wonderful gift to be fed and protected.
I think that’s a good thing.
My family now teases me that I still have that constantly running commentary and musing about all around me. They just chalk it up to the flying squirrels in my head, but I’m not sure that’s entirely it.
I really am interested in what is going on around me, digging below the surface and understanding the personal connections of things.
You know, the important stuff.
When our daughter Alex was still at home, she had her IPod with her and would always look up the answers to everything I wondered aloud. One night I asked her why she was so quick to hit the Internet (again, another of those thoughts that intrigued me) and her response made me stop to really think.
“Dad, why ask a question if you aren’t willing to find out the answer?”
There is a lot of media buzz right now about those who may be asking too many questions within the Church. The perception is out there that we shouldn’t ask sensitive questions, or that we may face disciplinary action if we do.
That is, if it is the real answers he/she wants.
It usually only becomes maddening when the real answer doesn’t match up with what we think the answer should be.
How many times has a child asked a parent if they can do something, and after being given reasons and then told “no”, continues to keep asking and asking?
At least a zillion.
We know why.
They didn’t like the answer they received.
So they keep pestering.
Eventually a parent will put finality to the situation by saying something like “because I said so.”
I think this is a pretty critical juncture in a child’s development and ability to trust as an adult.
There is the obvious option to be angry, throw a fit, and resent the parent who is acting tyrannical. I’m sure that would be fueled by the tone, level of exasperation, and amount of other distractions surrounding the parent when the phrase was tossed back at the child.
We’ve all been there.
But there is also the option to have that same response put the issue to rest, both physically and emotionally. The child can then turn, focus on something else, feeling free and unencumbered to pursue new areas to explore and wonder and be excited about.
Almost more than they can keep up with.
The same words were delivered in both options; the message was as different as night to day.
“Because I said so. Can you trust me right now for that to be enough for you?”
When started young within the family, this lesson becomes part of a solid foundation for the future.
There were rare occasions when my Dad responded this way, rather than trying to figure out the answer together – for whatever reason. He made the decision that right then, I didn’t need to know every detail.
I had what I needed at that moment.
I can honestly say that I remember it being enough for me then; I can honestly say that I know it to be enough for me now.
I’m still the same curious question asker. But it doesn’t weigh me down in frustration at answers I don’t like; it lifts me in feelings of awe and wonder at the answers that ring true in my heart.
It’s in the family where we learn we can trust. It’s in the family where it is comprehensible to take some things just on faith. It’s in the family when we know that sometimes all a loving Father has to say is:
“Can you trust me right now for that to be enough for you?”
If we can answer yes, we find ourselves free to explore, and wonder, and be excited about all that is going on around us.
Almost more than we can keep up with.