I'm sure you have heard this pithy phrase at one point or another. I have said it often as an attempt to curb my tendency to be everything to everybody. Usually the reaction from others is an raised eyebrow or smirk of some sort.
"I don't know" means "I don't care",
and "I can't" means "I won't".
This little turn of phrase elicits more contrary response, especially from well-meaning friends. Honestly, my children don't much care for it, either. I started saying it when my oldest was struggling with her studies in the first grade. It was my effort to stop the ever-familiar "I don't know" answer and encourage her to think things through before giving up. The response from adults is usually pretty entertaining; just between you and me, I may be saying it just to be ornery at times, but don't tell anyone.
Both of these oft-used phrases lead me to think of what I can and cannot do, what I will and will not do, for others. Perhaps we all need to spend some time pondering what we are obligated, responsible and willing to do for others. Here's my humble attempt at making a list - perhaps it will inspire you to identify those things which you are willing and not willing to do for and to those around you.
I can and will:
- love, serve and worship the One True G-d of the Universe
- love others to the best of my ability
- do my best in any task that is before me, as unto the LORD
- teach my children diligently
- honor my parents
- respect my husband, family, friends, neighbors, teachers and elders
- be honest and kind
- forgive those who have hurt me or sinned against me
- use my talents and gifts to help and serve others as much as possible
- take responsibility for my words and deeds
I cannot and will not:
- compromise my beliefs, which are grounded in Scripture
- purposely hurt the feelings of others
- stand by and witness injustice without protest
- act immorally or knowingly participate in sinful behavior
- act or pretend to be something or someone other than who I am
- act sinfully or hurtfully towards others for someone else
- knowingly break a commandment
- take responsibility for the actions or words of others
- hold a grudge, resentment or anger towards my neighbor
- deceive myself by believing a lie
I have heard it said that when you say 'yes' to one, you say 'no' to something else. I'm not sure this is true, but it is worth considering.
So, what does your list look like?
I hope you didn't just say "I don't know"...