I used to think it was the answers that mattered. I’m discovering it’s the questions. Answers are about getting the good grade, earning approval, meeting the expectation.
Questions are where the power is – and the risk. Questions can disrupt and unsettle. Questions take us into unknown territory. They create intimacy; reveal truth. Questions reflect the truth that every soul is a mystery and that God can never be boxed.
We religious types get it wrong when we think our faith is about answers and not questions. I am grateful to a former pastor of the church I serve who assured a now faithful member that figuring out exactly what she believed was not a prerequisite to being part of a church. “A community of faith,” he said, “is full of people asking the same questions you are. You will be in good company.”
I regret unasked questions. Not because my curiosity wasn’t satiated but because I missed the chance to bridge the gulf between I and Thou. I squandered the opportunity to stand with another on the sacred ground of their story.
Asking questions requires a promise. If I overstep, I will back out as gracefully as I can. If my asking makes something spill out I promise to find a mop and put up a caution sign on the floor. I promise to sit beside you on the shore of the lake that your soul pours out.
I regret not asking the questions that would have unmasked me in the asking. What do you see when you gaze at me? Why aren’t we friends anymore? Declarations of love and statements of hurt are questions in disguise: Do you feel the same way? Are you sorry?
I make up stories to finish unfinished conversations. I write these tales in my head as I walk my dog and they are masterpieces. But they are not true. Accepting that some questions will forever be unasked and unanswered is part of letting go and moving on.
I am grateful to those who have asked me questions that helped my real self show up. What is stirring in your soul? Can you imagine being in love again? How are you…really?
Questions tell us that we are wondrously made because we are worth wondering about.