“Dad, DON’T you KNOW…?”
I thought my kids would be teenagers before I started hearing that. It seems that I was wrong, or else I slept through seven years of their lives. I hear it all the time. “Dad, DON’T you KNOW those socks are pink, and my pants are purple?” (Sorry, Emma, I didn’t realize I had gone colorblind. I must have, because you CAN’T be questioning my fashion sense. You’re six years old.) “Dad, DON’T you KNOW the Megazord has smaller zords in it?” (No, Ethan, and I can’t explain why I have a link on my site to Power Rangers fanfiction that I started writing twenty years ago. Never heard of that show!) “Dad, DON’T you KNOW that you can’t serve pizza and macaroni together?” These are my kids, don’t judge!
They say funny things, and I will admit that I love to pass those things on—looking back over my Facebook timeline, there’s a veritable collection of crazy kiddie sayings. It’s not so funny, though, when I think about the things I REALLY don’t know. I thought, by this point in my life, that I would be prepared for some of these mysteries, but I was wrong. I’m not a gloomy person, despite the fact that my college Dean of Students told me I was too introverted and depressive to ever accomplish anything. Sometimes, though, these things weigh on me—and yes, maybe, a few are funny (or so I tell myself at the time!). Let me tell you some things that I don’t know.
- I don’t know why the economy is in such a tank. Oh, I know we can catalog the reasons it happened—what I don’t know is why we as a country allowed it to happen. Greed, I suppose, and stupidity, and arrogance—we thought it could never happen to us. How wrong we were.
- I don’t know why my children can’t put the lid back on the milk carton. It’s like a magnet exists in the jug and in the lid, turned north to north so they repel each other. Unfortunately, the magnet in the floor seems to be turned south up, because spilling it is always step two.
- I don’t know why it took me so long to try to do what I want to do with my life. Now, I haven’t made it there yet, of course, but soon I’ll be in a position to try; last week I reported that I had broken 73k words in my most complete manuscript, and since then I’ve added another three thousand, even on a very busy weekend. Two chapters and an epilogue to go—the end really is in sight, at least for the first draft. But I don’t know what kept me from trying, all those years, even though I’ve been making halfhearted attempts all along.
- I don’t know why my wife of ten years decided to leave. Even though I saw it coming, I still can’t explain it. I can pick out some things that contributed to it: her mental illness, for one, and the general state of dysfunction in our relationship after years of struggling with her symptoms. But that doesn’t explain the whole picture—how something as good as our marriage in its early days could go so wrong. And also:
- I don’t know how to explain to my children why their mother can’t live with us anymore. Try as I might, they don’t understand. There’s nothing for it except to keep telling them, over and over, that it wasn’t their fault. The trouble is, when you’re a child, it has to be somebody’s fault…and since I stayed and she went, to their little minds, it must be me. We’ll be working this out for a long time to come, I think.
- I don’t know why the eight work hours (of my ten hour shift) in which I do the work go so slowly, but the two hours that I have (mostly) free at the end of the day go so quickly!
- I don’t know why one of my closest friends has to struggle to find a job. She’s the most qualified person I know, for any job—and I do mean any—that she puts her mind to, and yet the jobs aren’t there right now (her current job is a contract position, in which the contract expires this month, and won’t be renewed). Maybe it’s timing—she works for the government, and of course the fiscal cliff is interfering with everything federal. But it’s not right. She excels at everything; something should work out. I also don’t know what to do to help, as much as I want to. Maybe there isn’t anything, but the thought of that kills me.
- I don’t know why the last quarter tank of gas never lasts as long as any of the others.
- I don’t know why my firstborn child was stillborn. I know the medical reason. I don’t know why. It still hurts—and nine years later, the effects are still going: most likely, that loss contributed to my ex-wife’s illness.
- I don’t know why I could finally change my habits so as to improve my health, see that improvement happening, and then find I have symptoms that might mean I’m diabetic (results still pending—I’ll revisit this later). Life isn’t fair, I know, but that just seems perverse.
- I don’t know why life doesn’t work out according to plan. I just know it doesn’t.
Many people talk about their faith, but they do it in ways that come across as foolish, or ridiculous, or arrogant, or unintelligent, or (God help us) spiteful. I never wanted to be that person, so I don’t talk about it often in formats like this. I try to make every instance count for something, and above all I try to be humble, because I don’t know everything. I believe in God (I’m a Baptist, to answer the inevitable question), and certainly if I can persuade someone to believe the same, that would be great. But I won’t be argumentative about it—that will only offend people. It isn’t my goal with this blog, anyway, it just happens to be relevant tonight.
I don’t have the answers, but my faith does help to sustain me in the face of the things I don’t know. I believe that we can’t have all the answers here—but that there ARE answers. Form your own opinions about Heaven and Hell, you have that choice; but I think that one thing to be found in that future, is the answer to the question that plagues us, whatever it may be. Knowing there can BE an answer, it’s easier to wait for it, and easier to keep going while we try to find it.
One last thing: I rarely get comments on these posts at this point; I’m still too new, I suppose. But I would love to hear your comments on this. What are the questions you can’t answer? I can’t guarantee you an answer, but I’ll be glad to give you my thoughts.