Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Question Me

Do you ever second guess your decisions? Do you ever question your own motives? I sure do, and I do it a lot. In fact, I do it more now than I did just a few years ago, and much more than I did when I first came to know the Lord. While I certainly try to make every effort to make good decisions in the first place, and make sure my motives are just, sometimes circumstances seem to do a switcheroo and it causes me to revisit those decisions and ask "did I do/say that for the right reason, and was it the best thing I could have done/said?" I believe it's actually a good thing to do this, to really "get honest" with yourself before the Lord and ask Him to expose your lack of wisdom (wherever it is you lack), or your genuine reasons behind your decisions. I believe the more we examine our own hearts the more He shows us where we need to go, how we need to get there, and what not to do the next time around. Reading Jerry Bridges' Respectable Sins recently, was one of the greatest gifts I could have ever given to myself, in this regard. If you're serious about examining yourself, you will want to read this book.

As much as I believe in this form of self-discipline, I find it curious then, that I just can't seem to shake something someone once said to me. Coming from someone I thought was a friend, one day literally out of the blue the statement was made "I question your motives". When I pressed for clarification, details, anything - I got nothing. It was just left as is, and caused me to walk away shaking my head. This was a couple of years ago now, and it still puzzles me. Question my motives about what? Homeschooling? Bread baking? Writing, photography, birding, doctrinal/theological interests, belgian chocolate, baseball, badminton, red nail polish, wearing birkenstocks...? I never did get an answer from the person who said it, and the friendship quickly cooled (not by my choice) after that day, to a point where I almost never talk to this person anymore. That bothered me then and it still bothers me now. I never did get an answer, so all it left me doing really, was questioning what kind of friendship that really was in the first place. Do friends really drop a bomb like that then walk away, leaving you without answers? Well, in my definition of friendship no, they do not.

QUESTION YOUR OWN MOTIVES

As a mom, I learned early on that asking you kids "why" they did something, you will almost always get the answer "I don't know". Truth be told, they really do know, but because they usually don't think through the things they do on the fly, as children, they don't take the time to stop and think about why they did or said certain things. They are children so they think like children and do goofy children things. So in asking them "why", you're pretty much assured of getting the old stand-bye of "I dunno". (Please be advised that this changes in a 180 degree fashion when they're teenagers, and know everything, as evidenced by the answer "I know" to everything you say). But as children, they really do know, and will often actually tell you what their motive was, if you give them to opportunity to think it through.

One of the things I picked up on some years back, was to encourage my kids to try to come up with an answer to that question. To think about what was going on, who was there, what was said, what was done, how they felt and what they were thinking, and the real reason they did or said the thing they did or said. When one of my kids tells me "I don't know" I generally respond with "yes you do, if you really give it some thought". It's amazing the answers they'll give you, when you encourage them to think it through. The whole point in doing this is to give them the tools to think and question their own motives, before they ever do things to begin with, rather than react on pure emotion (which we all do, at times). It's a way to teach them to be honest with themselves first and foremost, so that they never use the "I don't know" excuse, to excuse their own behavior. We consistantly remind them to check their own motives, attitudes, decisions and feelings, and we hope that as they grow up that they'll take that with them. it might not ever spare them from hearing someone else say to them "I question your motives", but it will allow them to consistantly practice checking their own motives, which is much more important.