Our 18 month old daughter, Jane, LOVES to answer questions. If we have a long drive and she’s getting cranky in the back seat? Simple solution, start asking questions. If she happens to take a rough fall running around the kitchen island resulting in sobs? Easy distraction from the pain, just ask more questions. She even requests more if my wife and I take a few seconds off of the rapid-fire pace to catch our breath. “Mo Kweshons. Ask Mo Kweshons!”
Who came over this morning? Grandma!
What did you have for breakfast today? Egga! Oat-a-meal!
What do you like better; pizza or noodles? Noodles!
What do you like better; noodles or pizza? Pizza!
Where is your belly? My belly is right THERE!
She begs for questions- thirsts for them. Whether she’s happy, sad or just bored the simple act of asking her a question engages her. She needs to stop what she’s doing and think. In her tiny toddler brain she is remarkably able to come up with the correct response the majority of the time. Obviously we aren’t asking her to explain the Pythagorean theorem but you get my point. She feels engaged and empowered.
A couple of weeks ago I met with a student who has been having a very hard time holding onto her faith. She wasn’t bored or rebellious or even having a crisis of perceived logic. This student longed for God and just didn’t feel like God was responding to her cries. My instinct in these situations is to start the process of problem solving. Questions play a key role in this process: “What is the problem? When did the problem start? What are some of the causes of said problem? What can you start to do to make the problem go away?” Etc. Unfortunately, I all too often fall into the male cliché of “problem solver.” I have learned much from my daughter on the value of questions that engage one’s brain and I have learned much from my wife on how to listen without immediately seeking out solutions. (This latter truth deserves its own post.)
As I sat with this student I had to resist every urge I had to dive into those expected questions I thought I should be asking. Instead I spent a lot of time listening. When it finally came time for me to speak and to prod a bit into her story my set of questions looked different : “What do you value most in life? What gives you life? What about your life just feels… right?” It took her a few minutes but then she came up with this beautiful list: Travel. Helping Others. Nature. Music. Beauty.
Without knowing this student you’ll just have to take my word for this: Her list was a revelation. As I sat and listened to her make short but succinct explanations of her life values something very profound became clear to me: her life, what she finds life-giving, is exactly how she shows God to others. Her experience traveling to serve other, her ability to find proof of beauty within music and her instinct to surround herself in nature in search of truth- are the exact lifestyle choices that prove God’s existence to those around her. I choked up a bit as I tried to explain this to her. And she cried freely as she tried to hear what I was saying.
She came to me and asked to talk. She wanted to hear what I thought about her quest for God and His relative silence in response.
My wife taught me that not all problems need to be solved. My daughter taught me to ask questions that engage and empower.
Mo Kweshons! Ask Mo Kweshons!