Friday, August 15, 2014

Why Asking is Healthy

In this post:  Healthy responses to a need, squatting in neediness, anxiety builds up, trusting God

My 6 year old daughter started to cry this morning.  
“Mom,” she said, “I couldn’t do my job yesterday because I don’t know how.”  
“What is your job?” I said.  
“Sweeping the kitchen.”  
“Sweeping the kitchen is fun because…uh…you get to sing while you do it.  Let me show you.”

She learned to sweep today and she taught me something.  If she had asked for help yesterday, she wouldn’t have felt sad enough to cry today.

Asking is a healthy response to a need or want.  Murmuring is a toxic response to a need or want.  

The Children of Israel were expert murmurers. “And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.” (Num 17:12)  They were squatting in a state of neediness instead of building the reality they needed or wanted.

Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet, showed us a healthy response to unmet needs.  “Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” (1 Ne 18:16)  He both looked to God and expressed gratitude.

Sometimes we need peace and it is the one thing we don’t have in life.  If we ask God for peace in a specific form and He offers us peace in another form, we still don’t have what we want —but we have what we need for now.  If we don’t ask, the resentment or anxiety builds up.  We cry.  Maybe we don’t cry today or tomorrow.  Maybe we hold it in, but eventually the stress comes out of our mouth.  How often does it come out in a complaint?

Murmurers are people who don’t ask, they complain.  

Asking the right question can be as important as asking.  There are children who rigidly ask for one thing over and over whether or not it’s good for them.  Like candy.  If I gave my kids candy every time they asked for food, they would not be healthy.  I offer them food in another form.

In the book of James it says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  (James 4:3)  Surely God knows when his children ask for things that would not be healthy for them.  He would not be God if he unwisely gave us everything we asked for.  We have to trust him.  As we ask, we don’t squat in neediness, but we look for ways to build the reality we need.  God often guides us to build rather than coming down and building for us.

Beaver courtesy Papapishu

There’s a great little story to illustrate asking the right question in the book, The Phantom Tollbooth.
“‘Why did you know that if a beaver two feet long with a tail a foot and a half long can build a dam twelve feet high and six feet wide in two days, all you would need to build a Boulder Dam is a beaver sixty-eight feet long with a fifty-one-foot tail?’
“‘Where would you find a beaver that big?’ grumbled the Humbug as his pencil point snapped.  
“‘I’m sure I don’t know.’ he replied, ‘but if you did, you’d certainly know what to do with him.
“‘That’s absurd,’ objected Milo, whose head was spinning from all the numbers and questions.
“‘That may be true,’ he acknowledged, ‘but it’s completely accurate, and as long as the answer is right, who cares if the question is wrong?  If you want sense, you’ll have to make it yourself.’” (Phantom Tollbooth p. 175)

If the question is wrong, it doesn’t matter if we have the right answer.  But even the wrong question is better than no question.  By asking, we are starting to use our brains.  We are starting to think.  Creativity gets going and we find we have multiple possibilities each of which might work.  

Some questions won’t get resolved in this life.  Many people have a list of questions to ask God when they get back home.  Even without “the answer” God can give us peace in another form and we can practice trusting him.  Our ability to trust him makes it possible for him to guide us to the right question.

Challenge:  Today stop and listen to a complaint and turn it into the right question.

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