I didn’t think a thing about it. She asked, I answered. My tone and my demeanor were kind. The words were what I felt were truth – so why did the Lord put His finger on my lips?!!
It was such a simple little thing – she asked if we could buy some new art supplies. I responded with, “Nope, Sweetie, not right now. We can’t afford them…maybe another time.”
See? My words were gentle, they were true, they were…what I thought wise. But, shortly after speaking them, I felt the Holy Spirit tapping me and saying, “That isn’t right. You didn’t speak Truth to your daughter.” “HUH?!! What’s not true? We can’t afford to buy new stuff – especially when we already have plenty – so what is not true about what I said?”
“Your words implied to your daughter that the issue surrounding the purchase or lack there of, of art supplies revolved around whether or not you could “afford” them. I could provide the money right now and you could afford them. Would you buy them, then? Is the affording them the REAL issue or are you teaching your daughter things about purchases that simply aren’t true?”
I pondered on this for a while and suddenly I had a new understanding of how I use that phrase, “We can’t afford that.” I use it as a catch-all. When I say that, I then remove the need to stop and train my daughter/children about purchasing things. I don’t take the time to stop and ask “Is this something we feel the Lord would have us buy? Is this something that we need? Why do we want this? Is it to impress others? Is it to appease our bored souls? Is this something that He would have us get and give away?” There are simply too many dynamics at play here that I was ignoring (neglecting) when I gave her that pat answer.
It certainly causes me to stop and ponder – are there other pat answers I give my children? Are there other times I simply offer others words…just gray empty words, when in fact, I have a rainbow of answers available, all that would direct their eyes toward the Lord?! (I know, even as I ask this that the answer is yes. Yes, yes a thousand times yes!)
Oh Lord, make me attentive to my pat answers. I want to make certain that my children see You in all the questions, all the answers that they have. Keep me from being lazy in my responses, but rather ever listening to You – learning how better to answer the questions they bring. Don’t let me miss the moments.
(Ladies, please understand, I’m not saying that there isn’t a time/place for “pat answers” I’m simply sharing a new way of understanding/looking at one that I have been giving the kids all the time.)