I Want an Exact Answer!!

Math appeals to my daughter because each problem has only one correct answer. Cut and dry. Two plus two equals four. No need to waver back and forth. You’re either right or wrong.

But when it comes to something subjective that involves reflection or opinion…..she can fall apart. In response to simply reading a few paragraphs in a book and giving a summary in her own words, the drama begins…..

“I don’t know what to put down for my answer!” “I don’t know what to do!” “I’m not sure about this!” “I’m just gonna leave it blank!”

What I think is going on is this: She’s really asking the question “What if I get this wrong? What if this isn’t right?” “What if I fail?” 

I get frustrated with her and tell her to calm down. I try to explain the difference between an exact answer and an acceptable answer. Math is absolute….one correct answer. Writing a one sentence summary of a paragraph will look different for each student. But all the answers will be acceptable.

After the drama settles down, she makes an attempt. Sometimes the first word can be the hardest. But once she steps out and starts writing, it makes more sense. It comes together. And she can finally accept the fact that her answer will be different from her friends. Her unique answer reflects who she is.

God whispers to my heart in that moment: Sometimes you want an exact answer for something, Lisa. You want to know precisely step-by-step how to handle something. You stand still and become paralyzed because you’re afraid of failing. 

There are some things in God’s word that are absolutes. If we were to ask these questions, there would be an exact answer:

Should we murder? NO

Should we steal? NO

Should we commit adultery? NO

But what about this one: Are we commanded to love our neighbor? YES

But what does that look like? Will everyone’s answer look the same here?  Or will each person follow through according to the gifts God has given them?

Here are some ways we can show love: Help someone with yard work. Invite a friend over for coffee. Write an encouraging note. Write a check to meet a financial need. Give a hug. Take the time to listen. Spend quality time with a loved one. Buy a special gift. Wash someone’s car. The list goes on…..

There is not just one way to show love. Love according to how God has wired you. Love with a passion that only you can give. Let your unique love flow through you to the people in your corner of the world.

The way in which you show love will look different from those around you. Not everyone will have the same exact answer for this command to love.

But to do nothing?  To stand still–as if paralyzed–for fear of getting it wrong? That would be a wrong answer for sure. To do nothing is to disobey this greatest command from Jesus.

So what about you, dear friend? What are you doing to show love? Are you standing still waiting for an exact answer? Waiting for God to tell you step-by-step what to do for someone? I urge you to pray and step out of this mode of thinking and simply ask God to open your eyes.

To see your children in front of you.

To see your neighbors you might rarely speak to.

To see your co-workers.

To see those friends from the gym.

To see those homeless people with the cardboard signs.

To see the single moms who are barely making it.

And yes….even the people who have wounded us.

When our eyes are truly open, we can then choose to love freely from our heart. We can love with the gifts God has blessed us with. It is far better to love by stepping out in fear of the unknown–even if we stumble–than to stand still doing nothing….waiting for some magical answer to appear before us.

We are all called to love. And when we each follow through with our unique way of loving, this is the body of Christ! And that is a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Mark 12:31 “…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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One thought on “I Want an Exact Answer!!

  • Beautifully written, Lisa, and with great points too. I think even for some of us who don’t stand still, we may wrestle with second-guessing ourselves. I battle false guilt when I compare what I have done with what I think I should have done. Fear of failure can be crippling in so many ways, and when it’s coupled with a fear of success, yikes! It sounds like you’re working well with your daughter, and now I know why I like math (basic–no formulas) too.

    Like

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