Thursday, April 16, 2015


Recently I have read a lot on social media about the appropriateness of asking questions. Rather than adding to the speculation of those particular situations, I would like to share a couple of stories from my own life.

My teary-eyed 10 year old self once asked a youth leader, “How do you know God is real?”

“It is better to be safe than to be sorry,” replied this good-intentioned, well-meaning leader.

In other words, it was better for me to “believe” and go to Heaven than doubt and end up in Hell. Being the people pleasing pastor’s kid, I prayed whatever prayer she led me in and walked away thinking, “that did not answer my question”. I spent the next several years of my life praying every night that God, if God was indeed real, would not to send me to Hell.

Though traumatized and confused for much of my adolescence, I am not angry with that leader for her response. I have spent a lot of time considering why an adult would say something so irresponsible to an impressionable child and the answer is simple.  


The only reason a person would answer that question with “better safe than sorry” is because they are afraid. Maybe she was afraid for me. Maybe she was afraid that I could not handle a deeper answer. Or maybe, just maybe, she was afraid of what her lack of answer said about her own self. Either way, her response taught me 2 things, 1. Hard questions scare people (so I should not ask them) and 2. People who are afraid of hard questions are usually hiding something.

(For those of you who read that last statement and immediately got defensive, I don’t know you, so how could I possibly mean you? I am talking about myself here as much as anyone else.)

When I was in my early 20s I had a friend who was really obnoxious. He was a nice guy and very likable, but he asked A LOT of questions. One day he asked me a question that I thought (prayed) no one would ever ask me. I gave him a non-answer answer (kind of like that youth leader gave me) and hoped that would suffice but, like I said, he was really obnoxious. He called me out on my non-answer and kept pressing until I completely lost it. I yelled at him until I was in tears because of how terrified I was of acknowledging the truth and having another person know the truth. 

That was one of the most difficult (albeit life-changing) conversations I have ever had and it taught me a couple things as well. 1. Hard questions terrify people (but they are necessary and I should be willing to ask and answer them). 2. People who are afraid of hard questions are definitely hiding something (I certainly was).

It also taught me: 3. if you want to know something, ask. It is the only way to learn. 4. The truth hurts- but in a liberating you to new life kind of way (like childbirth).

So here is my response to all those who think we should not ask questions: 
Questions are not the enemy. 
The person asking questions is not your enemy. 
The truth deserves to be heard. 
The truth will set us free. 

No comments:

Post a Comment