I learned the value of simplicity when I was five years old. The summer before Kindergarten my Dad taught me to tie my shoes. "The teacher will gather everyone together to show them how," he told me, "and you will already be able to do it!" I was a captive audience. I was listening.
Well, the big day came. "Okay class, it's time to learn to tie our shoes!" This was my moment. I raised my hand enthusiastically. "Yes Lana?"
"I already know how to tie my shoes!" I blurted out. Grinning widely, I couldn't wait to see how proud this information would make her. But instead, all she said was, "That's nice. While the rest of us are learning, please pay attention and follow along."
Slightly defeated, I listened and obeyed. I practiced tying and untying my shoes as I waited for her to come to my table. As the teacher made her way around to each student, she patiently helped each one master the process. Finally, it was my table's turn and immediately, I noticed something.
Her way of tying was different. Right away I showed her my method. I showed her how it was faster and simpler for my little fingers. Then came the question I'm certain she predicted, "Do I have to learn this other way?" To my surprise she asked me to learn it her way and participate with the rest of the class.
I was stunned.
Why did I have to relearn how to tie my shoes and in a less simple way? I didn't understand. It felt like the kind of busy work that school children detest because...what's the point? When she left and moved to the next table, I set about teaching all my table friends the simple way and they agreed with me, it was better.
Now that I'm older I see the remnant of that same little girl, who just wants to tie her shoes the simple and more efficient way. In a sense, I'm still that little girl who doesn't want to do it like everyone else "just because." And I'm still the girl who wants to bring her friends with her into a place that offers them freedom from being pressured to comply when it doesn't make sense.
Helping my friends at school that day placed a mark on my life. Never again could I watch people around me struggle when I knew a simpler way existed.
I know I'm not responsible for how people respond, what they choose to act on, or how they view me. And I know my way isn't always best. I hope I am always open to new ideas and new ways of doing things and can see a better pathway when I come across it. But I cannot be silent anymore. I must speak up, share Jesus, share real life, and give real answers to life's problems. I must offer what is needed, even if some in my life disapprove.
Many times, this is accomplished through asking questions. I've found that most people don't ask questions; they give advice. And with all the voices telling us what to do, life doesn't feel simple. It feels complicated. How can we know who to listen to?
What do you do when a new idea comes your way? Do you test it out? Ask around? Who do you seek out and how can you know if the new way is better or not?
What if, among all the voices and advice you could be confident you'd found the best way for your family, even if it looked different? That's exactly what I want for you - confidence as you decide who to listen to. You can do it, but the first step is to begin asking questions...
Want to know more? Check out my book, Knee-Jerk Mom.