Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Why Do We Lock Our Doors?" (and other questions I wish they'd ask their mom)

My wife likes to remind me that she gets the kids' hardest questions. Whether this is a function of the amount of time the three of them spend together or her being (sometimes to her chagrin) our youngest child's safe place in this world is tough to say, but there's no denying that the questions about death, sex, politics, and war mostly fall to her. The kids are probably better for it; Rebekah is sensitive and kind in a way that escapes all describing.

I did get *the* hardest question, though. Maybe the most theological, too. I mean, Bek still wins on accumulated points but, as a stand alone question, I'd put this one next to any of the others. The kids and I were backing out of the driveway on the way to school one day, flirting with timeliness in our customary way, when one of the kids off-handedly asked, "Dad, why do we lock our doors?"

"Which doors?" I asked, playing stupid.

"All of them. Cars. House. And not just us. Why does everyone lock their doors?"

I honestly don't remember what I said. I bet it was awesome, age-appropriate, and "just right."

I do remember my fist thought as their questions flashed through my mind:
To keep people out. Duh. Because people struggle - we struggle - to trust one another. So we habituate mistrust.

We rightly recognize these habits as unfortunate, if not unnatural. These words from Jean Vanier, though, reveal both those habits' full cost and the wonderful truth that it need not be so, for he opens up the possibility that trust is not just earned; it can be given and made known in one another:
To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: ‘You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself.’ We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them. (1)
Of course, naming the beauty of things and people will also require habits. New habits. How does such re-habituation begin?

(1) In From Brokenness to Community (1992).

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