“You have so many questions my dear”
I whisper to Claire at bedtime after we spend time talking about if I am the tooth fairy and why we can’t see God. I want to keep answering, I want to keep the door open for all her questions and wonder. I dont think I have to know, I long ago gave up the idea that my kids would see me as a perfect parent. I decided that I’d rather them see me as fully human always needing a good dose of Jesus and self control. I want to answer though, I want to sit with her in all the questions about life and to my very best abilty help her understand. After all this is what parenting dreams are made of, getting to the point where I’m helping my kids grow instead of merely keeping them alive. This is the part I have waited for.
I worry. I worry I won’t answer well or that I’ll miss the really important stuff. I let my productivity overrule my compassion and sometimes my answers are short when they should be long. Sometimes I cut you off mid thought about why birds fly in circles or I simply tell you that you’re wrong when you speculate with your brother about the clouds covering the sun. And I know I’ve failed you. I know your questions matter but to be honest sometimes they seem silly. Sometimes I just want to make dinner in peace and sometimes your questions get emotional and my calloused adult heart wants you to toughen up and move on. Sometimes I have to remember how patient my God has been with me, in my own years of questions.
The easiest way to grow empathy is to have to ask someone else to extend it to you. In those moments when I can see myself in my kids, when I can reflect on the times I wanted to be heard and understood, I can lean in and listen. I was thinking about this the other day because we have been a busy season where every hour has a purpose and to keep the train moving I have to keep moving. Its been a great season but a busy one thanks to this new adventure of school (why do 6 year olds need homework??). Busy always seems to get in the way of having enough time. Busy is rarely conducive for learning.
Then last week in church our pastor was talking about Lazarus and how when Jesus came on the scene Lazarus had already died and how his two sisters had questions, like where have you been and why didn’t you save him? And their questions were valid and I realized as our pastor read the story how patient Jesus was in their questions. Instead of shutting down questions that were not only unnecessary but that he already knew the answer to he cared enough for them, to listen and answer. Of all the people to be dismissive Jesus would have been the most qualified. He had a true grasp on what was to come and he knew that his own death would be so brutally painful. He also knew Lazarus wasn’t going to stay in the grave. He had every reason to ignore or cast aside the silly and ignorant questions of people. But instead… instead…. He leaned in, he wept alongside friends, and he didn’t brush aside questions he already knew the answer to. If the Son of God who knew plans before they were even thoughts would take the time to care who am I to brush aside real feelings and questions of growing children?
In that moment sitting in the row I heard the most clear whisper of truth, how patient have I been with you you? Be patient too.
I want my kids to come to me when life doesn’t make sense, I want them to come to me when they dont understand, when they feel lost, and when they need help. However to be that person, I have to be safe for all their questions, from the ones about ladybugs to the ones about God.