The first time she came to my house she barely spoke.
The second time she came to my house she asked me how much my new vacuum cleaner cost.
I fluttered around the answer shocked she would ask, knowing the item was ridiculously overpriced, and too embarrassed to tell her the truth. I knew how many hours she needed to work to make that kind of money.
The third time she came, she asked me what my husband does for a living.
The fourth time, she saw my daughter’s shoes scattered throughout the house and asked if I pass them along when my girl outgrows them. I do, I said, I give them to my nieces. I saw her visibly deflate before rising again to say, “Well, if you ever have too many, can you give them to me? My daughter could use them.”
It took me a long time to get used to her blunt manner and her prying questions. I still feel a little quivery on the inside when I see her, wondering what she will say next. People who ask for exactly what they want make me nervous. I like questions that come with a side-long glance, a maybe, or an upturned voice at the end of the sentence. This is how I ask most questions, any other way makes me feel as if I’m engaged in confrontation. As a result, I don’t always get what I want. In fact, I’m not sure people understand precisely what I’m asking.
I split the shoes down the middle now–my daughter owns more than enough to go around. Half go to my nieces and the other half go to the woman who had the guts to ask for them. I wonder what else she asks for from life, and what she receives as a result. She has no guile, no pride, no reason to think the answer might not be yes. She has needs and she recognizes when someone else can meet them. What is it like to approach life as a question waiting to be answered, and to approach people as the potential answer to my need? I forget how much we depend on each other, how tugging on one side of the rope brings a corresponding tug on the other end.
Whether out of pride or fear, I don’t like to ask too many questions and rely on others to be the answer. I forget my own need. But, I when I really think it through I realize I can’t do the work I want to do without you. I can’t communicate without someone on the other side of the screen reading what I write. I can’t parent well without you coming alongside me, throwing your arm around my shoulder, and telling me you’ve been there too. I need your help carrying my load on the straight and narrow path of faith. You are a fellow traveler in this pilgrim’s progress. I want to learn how to walk a mile in your dusty, worn shoes and allow you to slip your feet into mine too. I hope I learn to ask the right questions, and accept that sometimes you are the answer. I hope one of these days when you really need me, I’ll be the answer for you.
What questions are you asking right now? Are you someone else’s answer?