Do we ever stop asking questions? (Clearly not.) I feel like I’ve been asking questions my whole life, and I doubt I’ll stop even if I reach 100 years old.
I love questions with simple answers. That was probably the one thing I liked about math when I was younger. “What is 2+2?” had a very clear and direct answer – four.
I hate questions with vague or uncertain answers. This is probably why I stopped liking math once the answers became “3x” or imaginary numbers.
Unfortunately, life rarely provides simple answers. Because of this, working through difficult questions with uncertain answers has become a lifelong pursuit.
Questions of Curiosity
What does the sky feel like?
Where is the moon? (Far away.) Maybe it’s in Japan.
What if the kitty could talk? What if she said, ‘Why do you have hair?’
Every other sentence I spoke when I was a toddler was some type of question – and usually each question was followed up with a series of “Why’s?” It frustrated my parents, I’m sure, but I was curious, and so I continued asking.
Questions of Growth
How can I help other people?
Do other people love me for who I am or what I do?
Why do I care so much about what other people think?
By the time I was twelve, I started asking deeper questions. I learned that the world was much bigger than just me, and I ached to know how I could help those in need. I began to feel pressure to earn affection based on my performance, and I realized what a twisted life philosophy that was. But I couldn’t find any simple answers to my increasingly complicated problems.
Questions of Purpose
What do you want me to do with my life?
Where do you want me to go for college?
Why – specifically – did you create me?
I reached the midpoint in my high school career, and my questions grew harder. Now the answers affected more than just tomorrow – they affected the tomorrows for the next four (if not many more) years of my life. I began to understand that answers don’t always come in full and complete sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes they come in fragments or single words.
Questions About Others and Self
Should I go on this mission trip or get involved in this ministry?
How do I help my friend know you love her?
Why do I care so much that I’m not doing well in this class?
Nine hours away from home, I was on my own for the first time in my life. I still had family members I could ask for advice, but more and more, I learned to choose for myself and to listen to God’s answers with my own ears. And while I became more independent, I also (ironically) learned the value of interconnectedness with those I loved. I learned to ask for help and to hear God’s wisdom through the words of caring friends.
Questions of Faith
How did you make the world and does it matter what I think about how you did it?
Why do you let young men die?
How should I talk to and relate to those who have different beliefs than me?
My sophomore and junior years of college were hard, dark. I struggled with questions of science, suffering, and religion. Four young men I knew (however closely or distantly) died before reaching their twenty-fifth birthdays. I began having migraines again for the first time in three years. And yet, when I asked my dark questions, I received answers full of light.
Questions of Direction
Is this where you want me to live, or do you want me to go someplace else?
Do you want me to have a family of my own someday, and what should that look like?
Is this the kind of work you want me to do – and if yes, how long should I do it?
My dad pointed out to me the other day that, as a young adult, my life is naturally less stable than the lives of middle-aged or elderly people. My friends move, I move, I change jobs, I search for new opportunities. I don’t have a five-year plan, nor would I know how to make one if someone asked me to. The answers to my questions never come as long-term solutions. Instead I hear over and over again:
Don’t be afraid.
And though the answers to my questions are not the simple ones I would prefer, there is a strange comfort in the solidity of the One who replies.
Questions are a natural part of life. When we don’t know, we ask. Sometimes we receive the answers we want; sometimes we don’t. But we always learn something in the asking. We learn about ourselves. We learn about the one who answers. And so, despite awkward miscommunications, despite aggravating noncommittal answers, despite long nights of crying out unanswered questions, I think I’ll keep asking. It’s worth the pain.