Thursday, March 20, 2014

Questions I need to ask

“Why me? Why now?”

Those are the questions the doctor asked us a few weeks ago shortly after we met him for the first time. And while the specific details are immaterial, suffice it to say we had a satisfactory (if perhaps overly complex) response.

It was easy to understood why this question came up at this specific time. What’s surprising in some small way is it doesn’t come up more often. It’s a question we might often want to ask when meeting someone, and maybe there are polite ways to gently probe under the surface where a probably mundane truth lives. But the reason we generally don’t ask is because it’s the type of question we might prefer to not answer about ourselves.

Obviously this goes beyond the basics — I don’t expect the checker at Jewel to ask me why I chose to buy my roast beef there instead of the Mariano’s across the street. Of course, I’d have a ready answer if she did. But what if the question came from someone I already know well, someone who might almost be able to answer for me?

What if one of our dear friends from small group came up to me at social hour on Sunday and said, “So, why did you come to church today?” I might have to admit the entire family functioned on autopilot from the moment the baby started to wake us all from our Saturday slumber.

What if the kindergarten teacher Wednesday night inquired about our sincere reasons for bringing everyone to open house? Sure, it takes a real lout to tell an eager six-year-old no one is going to see his classroom. But did we have a true purpose beyond fulfilling parental duty?

It is important to note we had a really good time at the open house — the kid was beyond proud to show off his projects and introduce his brothers to any teacher he could find. But as I sit here tonight I struggle to come up with a better “why we went” reason than “because that’s what you do.”

And maybe for some things that’s all we need. A good chunk of life is motions that must be gone through lest we get bogged down and thrown off course. Yet I remain convinced there are plenty of times — surely far more than I would think of at first blush — where I would be well served to ask myself “Why me? Why now?”

Basically, the more time I spend considering why I do what I do, the more likely I am to think, speak and act in the way I hope my kids will want to emulate. When I lapse into the thoughtless grind, I barely resemble a man I want my kids to become.

I was glad the doctor asked. I knew we had the answer. But the next time, with the next inquisitor, I may well be stumped. That’s a problem I need to address.

A prayer for March 20:

Lord, help me be mindful of how my words, thoughts and actions can help or hurt the people I encounter. Teach me to focus intently on the path you set before me. Guide me, that I may ever follow. Amen.

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