A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about “Questions and Answers,” cataloging my journey of the questions I asked when I was a toddler, all the way up to the questions that I ask now. But today, as I was thinking back on this post, I realized something.
Sometimes I am afraid to ask questions.
Especially when those questions are about God. Most of the time, I’m willing enough to ask my questions to Him directly—though sometimes I feel ashamed even of that—but asking those questions out loud, in the hearing of my peers or teachers or mentors is difficult.
I think it’s because I’ve learned to wear a mask.
I don’t think I was born with this mask. When I was young, I had no problem asking any question that popped into my head. I hadn’t yet learned the red-faced embarrassment of a “dumb” question or the shame of a doubt-filled question about God. Those emotions were learned.
As I grew older, I didn’t ask as many questions. Sometimes that was because I thought I had heard all of the answers and already knew the right one. I was, and sometimes still am, sickeningly proud in my certainty.
Sometimes, I didn’t ask because I was afraid the answer would be painful, that I might have to step back from something I enjoyed or re-evaluate a position I was passionate about.
Sometimes, I didn’t ask because I didn’t feel I was in a safe place. I wasn’t sure how friends would react to hearing about my doubt, and so I stayed quiet.
Sometimes, I didn’t ask because, somehow, I thought that if I dug too deep, I might unravel my faith in God—that the questions posed by a young, fallible human might somehow befuddle an eternal, all-knowing God.
In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In these passages, He speaks of the humility of a child. I’ve heard many explanations as to what it means to have a child-like faith, but I wonder if part of what draws Jesus’ heart to children is their ability to walk through life unmasked.
When I was teaching a group of after-school kids in inner-city Indianapolis, we created a question jar, where they could put all of their questions about God, the Bible, faith, etc. I loved the candor, curiosity, innocence, and deep thinking shown in the responses I received.
- Is heaven in outer space?
- How tall is God?
- Did God go to every planet?
- Does God have a dad and mom?
- How does God know when we’re going to die?
- How did God feel when His Son died on earth?
- Did God create the devil?
- Why do we have to love our enemies?
- Does God still love us when we sin?
As I was writing this post, I found this song:
The thing is, when we come before God with the unmasked curiosity and humble desire of a child, I don’t think God is angered by our questions. Yes, He berated Job for some of his questions, but previous chapters show that some of Job’s questions very likely came out of an arrogant or self-righteous attitude. He knows our hearts, and when we ask out of a genuine desire to learn more about Him, I don’t think we have to worry that He will think we are second-guessing or criticizing Him.
Children ask out of humility—they know they don’t have all the answers, but they want to learn. They ask boldly, because they trust God’s goodness and haven’t learned to fear the condescension of others.
I want to learn to ask questions like this again. I want to stop pretending I have all the answers. I want to stop caring about what others think more than I care about the truth. I want to trust that my God is big enough to answer any question I may have. I want to live unmasked.