the worst part

“what was the worst part of your day?”  ever been asked that question?  well, it’s a question that has become a regular part of our family’s dinnertime conversation.

late last year, we began to make a concerted effort to eat more meals at the table.  and, as you would suspect, it has been a very positive thing.  one of the byproducts has been the opportunity to bring back kristyn’s favorite question. as i remember, it used to be part of a nighttime ritual.  as she tucked the boy’s in, she would ask, “what was the best part of your day?”  i wish you could have shared in the great exchanges that this question gave birth to.

recently (i don’t remember the exact evening), kristyn was a bit distracted as we finished our dinner prayer and began eating.  as it was customary for her to do, she turned to one of the boys, and began asking that favorite question.  but on this particular occasion, she unconsciously deviated from the affirmative, and substituted “worst” instead of “best”.  she immediately caught herself, and corrected to the affirmative.  if i remember correctly, we shared a chuckle, and then connor jumped in to give his answer to the first question that was asked.  see, the thing that he most vividly remembered from that day was nowhere near affirmative.  and he began to soberly recount the story of being picked on in the lunch room.  some friends of his, and more specifically, one of his best friends had picked on him and called him names.  we allowed him to finish, and i asked him, “how did you deal with it?  what did you do?”  “i got up and moved”, he answered.  and in an instant it hit me.  in a moment that she might call a “mistake”, i think the Spirit stepped in and directed kristyn’s thoughts and speech to the really important question in connor’s life that day.  not only did it stand out among any of the other, even more positive, things that happened, but it also gave us the opportunity to grow as parents.  “i am really glad that you told us that, buddy.  we are really proud of how you handled that!  it is exactly what we would have encouraged you to do in that situation.”, i said.  “and i think we should start asking about the best AND worst thing each time, mom.  because it is important that both you guys understand that mom and dad care about the things that are bothering you, and the things you might consider bad, just as much, if not more, than the great things that happen.”

there was a purpose to that misspoken question.  and in fact, i don’t think it was misspoken at all.  it was the right question, at the right time, in the life of everyone gathered around the table.  there have been great answers to that question every time it has been asked since.  sometimes simple answers that may have no more effect than to just release something that has been a bit of a burden all day.  and at other times, profound answers that give us insight into the beautiful souls that both our boys possess.

try asking “the worst part” question to someone you love, out of the blue, someday.  and see what response you get.  you might get an “are you crazy?” sort of look.  but my guess is that, more times than not, it will birth a meaningful moment.  there is nothing quite like releasing someone’s burden, or providing a safe place to land.  don’t you, most times, expect a, “fine.” answer to a “how ya doing'” question?  i think the question has become as cliché as we believe the all-too-often answer is.  try asking a different question.

we did, and it dramatically changed the answer.  and it permanently changed us.

< title photo credit  ::   spencer robb >

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2 responses to “the worst part

  1. even though he may not have known it, Connor’s response was based upon the principles taught at home and at church. good job mom & dad !

  2. so great that that question came out…Connor wouldn’t have been able to share his story to the best part of your day question…neat!

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