My nine year old son just vomited for the second time. His face was pale and he was clearly lacking the energy or desire to sit down to a hearty lunch—something he never misses.
And when he told me that he had an important question, I really had no idea what it could be about.
“When I die,” he began quite seriously, “I have a question for God.”
“Oh, yeah?” I responded.
“Yeah, I want to know why—”
I decided to interrupt him to inject some humour into the conversation. “You want to know why we can't just vomit once and be done with it?”
“No,” he said with a smile.
“You want to know why we can’t eat delicious food even if we’re sick?” I offered, this time smiling even broader.
“No, dad. Listen to me,” he said through laughter. “What I really need to know is why He chose to make mosquitoes.”
I could tell he was quite serious now, but for the life of me I could not understand how this related to his current plight.
“Mosquitoes? Of all the mysteries on earth you'd want the answer to, that’s what you’d choose?”
“Yes! What is their purpose? Why are there so many of them? Why do I find them so annoying?”
Having made his frustration known, he simply cuddled up once more in his blanket and fell asleep.
Evangelization always begins with where a person is at. It begins with their worries, with their joys, with their frustrations, and their views about life.
And this got me thinking.
Sometimes … Well, most of the time in fact, we have a terrible habit of assuming that we know what is bothering another person.
We let someone’s past behaviour shape our conclusions so as to save us the trouble of investigating anew.
We let our own worries and frustrations be the measuring stick—a guide you might say—that we use on others, and hope that it will reveal what others are thinking or feeling ... more or less.
And sometimes, which oddly is happening more and more often, we let the media tell us what people think, even though the individuals themselves were never asked.
Why does this matter?
It matters because evangelization always begins with where a person is at. It begins with their worries, with their joys, with their frustrations, and their views about life.
And if they have a question, it is important that you let them ask it. And while you might think their question should be about heaven and hell, the existence of evil, or St. Thomas’ many proofs for the existence of God, the fact is you don’t know until they explain themselves.
Why mosquitoes? That’s a good question too. It’s just not my question. And that’s okay because evangelizing my children was never about me anyway.