Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sometimes the answer to the question is "suitcase"

Asking Why

"The moment the word 'why' crosses your lips, you are doing theology."
                                          From When Life & Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Curtis James

Below is a clip off of a friend's wall on Facebook. I have deleted everyone name but mine to protect the innocent (dismantled the links) . However, it is publicly out there in my activity in this social media.

Mother #1
J. asked me "why" today for the first time ever. I think the day that I've dreaded for years may have arrived.
  • FB Friend Why?

  • Mother #2 S. LOVED when that happened with “oldest child.” His enthusiasm really encouraged me with that stage. And, yes, it is a stage.

  • Catherine Mullaney I certainly hope it is not a stage. This is inspiration for a blog post. All three of my children 20, 21, 23 still all ask the question why and plenty of other questions as well. We are the only created beings who have the ability to think and reason. (I better save the rest for the blog post)

There are things from my raising, training and loving my kids when they were very young that are very vivid. So, I am very aware of the question "why?"being a way to delay obedience and in our house, "delayed obedience was disobedience." Most of the time it was OK to ask but it takes great discernment and focused attention to help our children know when to ask questions and particularly the why question.

I would say that the first 7 years of a child's life that the number one thing to learn is how to joyfully obey mum and dad. And we encourage them to do it with alacrity.  Humble obedience is the key to the rest of learning. One of the saddest comments that other mothers in particular would say to me was "I could never homeschool because my kids would not listen to me." This is NOT the kids fault. Inside I would be screaming, "What?! Are you kidding me? It is your duty as a parent to train your kids to listen and obey." With most of these conversations, I did not have the type of relationship with the other woman to confront her and call her to the carpet.

It helped to say, "obey first and then we can talk about the reason or reasons behind our command." We did our best to not wield our authority over our kids with the "because I said so." There were times that it had to be said but we also wanted our kids to understand. For us to bring them up under our loving authority meant we were cultivating a loving relationship with each of them.

When our children were quite young we memorized Proverbs 2:1-11 together. And come to think of it we did not memorize verses that might read something like, "children obey your parents" because we were learning to live that and we did our best to remind our children that we too were under authority, needing to be obedient to the LORD.

My son, if you accept my words
   and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
   and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
   and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5

The verbs in this proverb are fantastic. It will not be long before the little ones who are the children of the "why" mamas are asking questions like, "Why did Jesus have to die?" "Why do we believe that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus' birth and my friend says it is about Santa and getting presents?" "Why do we thank God for the food?" "Why is it called Good News if Jesus had to die?" Of course, the other questions starting with How, When, Where, What, and Who will follow as well.  

I think that Christian parents desire and pray for their children to know the LORD. And if we were to silence them into unquestioning obedience, we would crush their spirits and there would be a millstone awaiting us.

Each and everyone is an embodied soul. The wonder and questioning of the little ones help us to remember that we are children too with a Father who welcomes our questions, our fears and our doubts.  It starts with us knowing and trusting in who our Heavenly Father is. Yes, this takes time and patience and discernment and wisdom.

My favorite story about questions is from the Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. When they got a little older and started asking questions that they were not ready hear the answers to we would speak one word, "suitcase" and our kids knew what that meant because we used the following story to help us along the way.
“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is sexsin?"
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It's too heavy," I said.
Yes," he said, "and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

If we deny our children their questions and curiosities about life they will find someone else who is willing to listen, explain, and lovingly guide either to the Truth or to the ways of the world.  

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