It always seems that whenever someone holds a baby they feel the urge to talk to it and make it say something back. I’m sure I have done this myself where as a dad I tried to get my children do hurry up and say “dada” to win the harmless competition with mama. We want to get a jumpstart on teaching these little ones all the good and bad of the world so that we feel they are ready for what life will throw at them. We want to tell them all our fears and joys so they will know what to expect. We try so desperately to learn if they understand us at all and some will insist that these young ones do, however, I often wonder how these babies could respond to the questions the professionals asked. In all honesty, I just feel that these little souls are just not ready to listen to what we want them to learn nor do I think they can comprehend the complexity of our message.
Now teenagers, they are a completely different story because they certainly are physically able to listen and should have the mental capacity to understand yet some just don’t seem to care or want to hear what we have to say. Think about how many times a teen is told to do something and it never gets done or not to do something they always seem to do. It’s almost as if they take much longer to process the information they receive while their impulses react faster than they can control. Think of it like this, that moment when you see someone reaching for a hot sauce pan and before you can finish the warning that the pan is hot they touch it and burn their hand. Because the action and the verbal warning was basically at the same time the action moved faster than the ability to hear the warning.
Science will tell you that the human brain is not fully developed during the teen years, although many teens will argue against this. Even though some teens are better adapted to understanding complex things than others, for the most part there are some information in life that they are not ready to deal with on their own, despite how ready they try to convince you they are. Their reasoning ability is fairly slow and their impulsiveness is really fast which makes them have some ability to understand yet they already acted before they understood the consequences. Essentially, teens can hear what we want to tell them, and they could comprehend that information and possibly use it to benefit their live. However; the chaos within their transitioning from child to adult make it so they are not always ready to use the knowledge we try to pass on to them.
Outside the growing pains of life, there are also the matter of emotions. Have you ever tried to console a person who is heartbroken? Sometimes it seems that no matter what you say or do they will still think that it will never be alright or never ever be worth living again. We have learned that we just need to be there to listen not make them feel better. This heart-break is their pain and we as outsiders cannot possibly know how they feel. They must be able to work through all the different stages of grieving a loved loss in order for them to heal themselves to move forward. They need us to be there for them, they want us to listen to them, and although they want us to tell them everything will get better and the pain will go away, they are already convinced in their mind that they won’t. Sometimes the tears make them rationalize between reason an emotion and without the process of being able to cry they may not reach the point of separating the two. You the listener must wait until those in pain and in need are ready to listen to you.
I have a poor habit of letting things fester inside me and there are times when they will build up and I will poorly react to even the littlest things. I can feel myself beginning to boil and I try to stop it but if someone is pushing me or pecking questions or demands at me I know I may not be able to contain my aggravation. I have learned when my anger prevents me from rationalizing. I know that I just need to walk off and talk myself out of any aggression. I have learned that although I do not become full-bore physical, my anger will prevent me from being fast enough to think about what I say before it can be said and sometimes words hurt more than physical pain. I have learned that at these times when I am just frustrated I am open to listening with reason; I must deal with my own demons first.
There is this older man who is angry most of the time, I asked why and was told that he insist that he is many years younger and that he is going to be late for something. This man has long been deemed safe to be on his own and is lost within his very own past. There is nothing you can say to make him think that things are other than what he thinks they are. He is certain that he is supposed be somewhere because in his mind he is actually there and he cannot accept reasoning any more.
One day this older lady walked into the shop and was asking for directions. Being a full-service repair station that is one of the things we provide; directions for those who are lost in travels. I began by asking her where she was going and her response was that she didn’t know. This wasn’t out of the ordinary and being that this was a small town I moved to the next question. “Who’s house are you looking for?” This will usually give me some idea of where she is heading seeing how we pretty much know where everyone in the small area lives. She said she was looking for her home and that she knows she lives somewhere around there but couldn’t remember. She had enough sense to stop by the shop for direction but just couldn’t pull the directions out of her memory. She looked and acted like a scared ten-year old girl. I had my co-worker talk to her while I call the local nursing home to see if they were missing any patients. They were not but sent a nurse over to help this woman and it turned out she was very lost and should have been hundreds of miles away. This woman seemed not to be lost in her past but her past seemed to have escaped her and took some of the present with it. We tried to communicate with her but she was unable to comprehend because of the missing information.
There are certain stages of our lives, or certain situations we become faced with that make it difficult for us to rationalize. We are either unable to reason or must face certain obstacles first. At time the knowledge being offered to us will benefit our lives and then some, however; if the lesson is not presented at the time at which we are receptacle it will be wasted pages in our minds. Imagine being able to teach the baby right at the moment when it begins to understand. Imagine having the opportunity to warn the teenager before their lives become too chaotic. And think about how it would have changed the life of both the older people had someone been able to explain to them what was going on before they got lost in their past or just lost parts of their past. Think about how less painful it would be if we could support the broken heart before it breaks or reason with the anger before it grows stronger than our control.
We all are in need of knowledge and insight that will better our lives. We all need guidance and answer to the millions of confusing questions we are trying to understand. This knowledge is available; these answers are out there waiting for us. There are so many different people willing to provide us with insight and to guide us. The trick is to offer these things at the very moment when they are both needed and when they are the most useful. I recently learned that not only should we pray to have an opportunity to teach, but also to know when the right teaching moment makes itself available. Just imagine how our lives would have been changed if we could have been taught something right when we needed to know. Maybe we should also ask for the ability to be able to learn right when we need to be taught.