Did you ever think about the most Frequently Asked Question of you? You know, that question that everybody seems to ask – maybe just in a season of life, or in a particular situation, a chance encounter or planned meet-up, the FAQ that presents itself as often from a stranger as from a new acquaintance or even your BFF?
We had a church community group gathering at my townhouse last night, and one young woman who had never been to my home asked me if I had painted the two opposing living room walls in a dark cinnamon color. Another woman – who had actually been here shortly after I took occupancy, but hadn’t moved in yet, asked if the walls had been painted like this when she was here, remembering meeting one summer night in August when the only furniture I had in the living room was a group of folding chairs … she said she didn’t remember noticing the colored walls at the time.
Funny thing is, the week before, I had a friend I had recently reconnected with over for dinner, and in the midst of talking about some of life’s deeper issues and sharing what God was doing in our lives, she acknowledged it was a random question but asked if I had painted the walls the cinnamon color or if they were like that when I moved in. I can recall one incident after another of first-time visitors to my new house – one of my best friends last September, even my sister from Wisconsin visiting last Thanksgiving … all with the same question. Seriously, what is that about? Why does the very same question (about painted walls, no less) emerge from so many people who walk through the door, regardless of how connected I am to them or how well they know me? What is the significance of who painted the walls? What is the reason for this line of questioning? Curiosity? Skill assessment? Why is this somehow important for people to know?
It reminds me of my pregnancy with my twin daughters, now 23 years old. It didn’t matter if I was explaining my relative size to a concerned stranger in the grocery store who was afraid I would deliver in ShopRite or if I was sharing the news that I was having twins with friends or co-workers – the question was the same … Do twins run in your family? Even my family asked “Wasn’t Grandpa Bill a twin?”
And then after the girls were born, when I’d be out with them in the stroller and strangers would stop to look and chat, the FAQ became “Did you know you were having twins?” No, of course not. I thought I just looked like a beached whale because I was eating too much pasta. Really? What kind of question is that? Actually, that one I can probably explain because everyone who asked seemed to have a story to share about somebody who didn’t know they were having twins until they were in the delivery room and Twin B surprised even the doctor. Was that anytime after the Dark Ages? Seriously! What brings that kind of question to so many minds universally?
Okay, you tell me … if you ran into me in the grocery store with 2-year old identical twins in the stroller, what’s the question you want to ask? If you said “How do you tell them apart?” – BINGO, that’s it! Of course that probably isn’t as dumb as the FAQ my daughters have been asked their whole lives … “Do you like being a twin”? Seriously, how would they know any different? They’ve always been a twin!
So what is it that people are really wanting in asking these questions? I can’t be sure – after all, I’m guessing I may have asked one or two of you the unique universal FAQ that plagues you … but my sense is that people are looking for CONNECTION. I think people see something that stirs them, gives them a feeling of pleasure or comfort or joy and there is a natural instinct that kicks in and says “I want some of that in my life” and the question becomes a litmus test for possibilities of recreating that in their own life. When you enter a room that feels warm and inviting, the question may well be Could I paint the walls in my house to create this kind of warmth? When you encounter an expectant mother of twins, you may wonder Is there a chance I could have twins (or my daughter could have twins) or do they have to run in your family? “Do you like being a twin?” may be a longing to hear “it’s not all that” from someone who bore the loneliness of being an only child and yearned for a sister all of their growing up years.
If these FAQs are about possibility and hope … what are your Frequently Asked Questions before God, the One for whom nothing is impossible, our Deliverer, Healer, Giver and Sustainor of Life and all things hoped for? Are they the right questions? Are we giving God full reign over our lives or just asking Him to approve our agenda, our plan?
And what FAQ are you hearing from God? Are you listening?
As Christians, we are quick to quote Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. But we can’t stop reading there … the key follows in verses 12 & 13 – In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
Will you lay out your FAQs in prayer at the throne of grace? Will you bring your whole heart to Jesus with open ears and ask him to tell you one more time what he has been asking you to do with your life?
Answers to my FAQs
No, I didn’t paint the walls this rich, deep, cinnamon color – they were like this when I moved in and the color went perfectly with my furniture.
No, twins don’t run in my family. Plus Ashley & Marissa are identical twins, a fluke of nature and one of God’s truest miracles that a fertilized egg could split in two and produce two perfectly formed beautiful little babies. Only fraternal twins (formed from two fertilized eggs) run in families.
Yes, I knew I was having twins from about 16 weeks on when I had an ultrasound because I was larger than expected for my due date.