We know that children have unharnessed, natural curiosity. I wonder, at what point in our development cycle do adults become more mentally calculating when making observations or asking questions that could be perceived as trivial—or even irresponsible?
What do you say that we make a pact right now? Something like a pinky swear. Let’s vow to remain insatiably curious until the end of life. Not allowing the self-righteous religious types or the self-appointed intellectuals shut down thoughtful questions, musings, or contemplations.
In this very space, this creativity zone, rough ideas become diamonds, where ideas are placed on the anvil of dialogue and forged into something extraordinary. Clarity of thought develops when we are permitted to speak aloud, and messy dialogue is welcomed—even encouraged.
What if all questions were warmly embraced in all their beautiful varieties? “Is there really a God?” “Are all of the pages of Scripture true?” “Do I really need to vote this way?” “Is there more than one way to view this topic?” “Is it okay for that leader to act that way?”
Do you have a teen or preteen that you care deeply about—a child or grandchild? Encourage them to ask their questions without corralling and guiding where they land. Remember, they are on a journey. Where they land now does not determine where they settle. I know it is scary for us who have traveled a bit on life’s road—but relax. They will ask questions—and if you react instead of responding, they will still ask their questions—to someone else. Or worse, they will stop asking hard questions and morph into an intellectual kumquat.
Someone has said that the opposite of faith is certainty. Chew that one up a bit. We don’t have to have nice and tidy answers for everything—shrink-wrapped responses. A little humility and open-endedness might be good for us.
People become self-thinkers and problem solvers by-- wait for it-- contemplating and solving problems. Let the people in your life wrestle. We are not called to be the thought police—that’s God’s job. Let them struggle and make sure that we never cease wrestling and tugging at stubborn knots—about life, God’s silence, politics, justice, etc. Be forever bold and curious. Go annoy someone today— ask questions unabashedly.
For extra credit—read about a guy named Jacob. Or David. Or Habakkuk. Or Job. They asked lots of annoying questions.