Friday, May 23, 2014

Understanding Why Is Not Always Important

Kids are “why” factories. At first, the questions are a healthy form of learning. But as they begin to reason on things, their questions may take on the form of a challenge to parental authority. Especially when the child’s life is in danger (“Get out of the street!”), a child needs to act immediately without question.

Our inborn imperfection takes many forms and chaffing at authority, even in our adult life, is one of those. Sometimes authorities may direct us in ways we don’t appreciate nor understand. While I’m not espousing blind obedience, there may at times be good sense in tolerating a situation instead of getting angry and rebellious. Waiting to see if, even though the authority refuses to explain their action, there may be subtle elements of good sense behind their direction/decision.

As a parent, I began to gain appreciation for some of the things I felt were unfair that my parents said and did to me when I was a child. Parent’s perspective, while not perfect, is usually far broader than a child’s. When my own children balked at decisions I made, I was reminded how I responded to my parents. For the most part, my parents were very kind and generous. One time I remember my father bought me a 12-speed bike when all the other kids my age were getting 5- and 10-speed bikes. There were many other such instances. So when they made decisions I didn't appreciate, what I should have done was reflect on how loving my parents were. Instead, being immature, I did what most children do—complain. There were times that I reflected on those instances as an adult and it bothered me so much, I called my parents just to remind them of the instance, apologized for being so unappreciative, and thanked them for being firm parents.

I am currently reading the Bible book of Job. I remembered (once again) that Jehovah never did explain to Job why he allowed things to happen to him. Chapter two lets the reader in on the reason, but in the discourse where God is reasoning with Job (starting with Chapter 38), he doesn’t feel compelled to defend his decision to allow Job’s suffering.

As adults, our lives can take unexpected course changes that send our heads spinning. Just like the child demanding to understand “why” this is happening, perhaps even charging a parent with being unfair, we also may charge God with being unfair, unloving, and unyielding. To me, that is one of the biggest practical lessons we can individually take from Job’s account—never think that your perspective of the matter is better than God’s. Have implicit trust that his allowance of a bad situation is for your benefit.

I am also compelled to reflect on men who trust other men to the loss of their own lives. There are some subtle (and somewhat honorable) lessons that military life train a man (and now even women) for—that for the greater good of humanity, our personal lives are expendable. To wit, “ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do and die.” (Read the intro and then see the second stanza in this link.) But God is not another human. His perspectives are without fault. His greatest desire for us is to see us live—and live happily.

Even firm parents can make a good name for themselves in their children's eyes as "loving" by their gentle and kind manner, their willingness to listen, their sincere interest in their children's lives. Just so, God constantly reminds us humans how consistently generous, kind, and patient he is. So when he needs to be firm, we should remember the "name" he has made with us.

Some children when they grow up become bitter toward their parents. As a parent, I readily acknowledge that we are imperfect and make many mistakes—including how to be a parent. Many adult children fail to realize that while they themselves we trying to figure out their childhood life, their parents were trying to figure out for the first time their own adult life, including parenting. In contrast, Jehovah is not imperfect so becoming embittered with him because of something that is happening to us demonstrates that we haven’t learned the lessons the book of Job is teaching. It is never God’s fault. Be patient and humblewait to see how things work out. We may never understand certain aspects of what happened or why. That is not important. What is important is 1) remaining loyal to our God and 2) realizing how insignificant our personal satisfaction is in the grand scheme of things.

Somewhat related to this is a blog article I wrote back in June 2012—“Silence Is Golden.”

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