Questions

The mark of an intelligent child is their inquisitive nature – their constant quest for the answers to life.

We educate them by providing a series of questions for them to answer at various stages in their educational life. The exams that shape their futures are rooted in questions – testing their ability to answer.

And we’re continually told on training courses, or any other opportunities in life that “there are no silly questions” – guaranteed, if you’ve thought of the question needing answered, someone else has too.

So, why. Why do we see the questioning of our faith as weakness? The constant quest for answers indicates an inability to comprehend the deeper ‘stuff’ or to convey the message it carries.

We encourage children to answer questions like ‘does God exist?‘ and, ‘who was Jesus?
By showing them the teachings that the Bible has to offer. And then later, there’s deeper questions to answer; ‘how can you say there’s a God when there’s so much suffering?‘, ‘Your God can see everything, so why can’t he see the needs in the world and provide for them?‘, ‘If your God can create the world, why would you make it like this?‘ or, the great one ‘how can you believe in something that causes nothing but conflict through divisions based on hatred?

So, at various points, I’ve been hit with those questions. And my answers probably wouldn’t be textbook ones, and at various points I’ve probably asked those very questions myself – but that’s part of deepening my faith. If I’m not prepared to be inquisitive of it, I’m probably not invested in it. I’ve not been brought up to just accept things as they are. I’ve been brought up to argue and right injustices, to use my voice for good, to equip those I walk beside to be the best that they can be and to include at every opportunity (even if I don’t like the person). I’ve been brought up to love people wholeheartedly, whether I like them or not. I’ve been brought up to be the reliable person that you can always turn to because, even if I don’t want to do it, I’ll find a way of getting it done. Sometimes I’ve stuck at things for too long when I should have walked away, but rarely have I walked away when I probably shouldn’t. I’ve been brought up to give all of myself in all that I do – more often than not to my own detriment. I’ve been brought up to be ready to say yes, and to always be careful when thinking of saying no. I’ve been brought up to question – to question others and most importantly, myself.

So, I always ask questions. Always. Even though I may know the reason behind it, I always want to know why (or, how if you’re from the Lanarkshire area!). The searching for confirmation of knowledge will continue for the rest of my life, I know I will live a life of questions – most of which may not actually provide any concrete answers. And, even though I know this, I still want to know why.

And that is why, for me, its the most natural thing in the world to continue to question my Call. The search for those answers will probably never end. With new answers come new questions. Does this continual cycle of questioning equate to weakness?
Some mistake it for doubt and therefore plant the seed of doubt in my mind.
And that’s been the most dangerous thing, because from that seed, my incessant questions help that dirty weed to grow.
I’ve never been very good at gardening (concrete ftw!) – it isn’t in my skill set.

How do you get past that? And, why does God put those obstacles in your way!?
And the answer is… jigsaws!
People enjoy jigsaws. Jigsaws, and life, would be easier if it already came completed in the box – but where’s the fun in that? What’s the point in a puzzle that comes already solved?

So this whole Call game isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be a search through the puzzle – the continual cycle of discerning what is God-led, what is self-led and is there potential for those to be one in the same?

Therefore confusion is easy = doubt is inevitable.
And there hangs the difference; doubt, for me, stems from me questioning my ability. Questions of enquiry, for me, are learning tools I use to deepen my faith and, as a by-product, strengthen my call.
Unfortunately both sound similar.

And that brings me to the current questions I have.. the ones I continue to pray over:
– what next?
– where does the challenge lie?
– will You guide me through the puzzle I crave?
– will there be a puzzle to solve?
– have I solved it and I’m simply not happy with the outcome?

And still, I know that with the eventual revelation of those answers will come more questions. Thankfully, the difference now is, I’m not afraid to talk about it.
Questioning is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength; being unafraid of finding answers. It’s a constant learning tool – enabling the development of ideas and the deepening of faith.

So, asking questions, it’s ok. Right!?

Communication

So, this isn’t what I thought I would be writing.. but it is, what it is.

I’m not one of those people that can put their phone in their bag and forget about it – I’m the person that carries it in their back pocket, usually rapidly responding to every text, tweet or email.

But, now I’m realising that’s all a bit vapid. Gone are the days of phoning someone – there’s text, Facebook messenger, email etc. And it’s why we’re all a little bit worse off with direct communication. It’s so much easier to hide behind an email or a message that the recipient will eventually pick up and answer, than it is to phone or visit them to ask the questions we need answers to. It’s much easier to have those difficult conversations with the social media barrier already in place, than it is to be assertive enough to have those conversations in person. It’s much easier to type negativity than saying it – saying it makes it real, writing it doesn’t feel as real.

There’s a few people that would be hefty surprised I would say that, because I’m the first to hide behind those forms of communication – they’re easily managed. BUT. They’re not personal. And I, in particular, am reaching a stage where that is much more important than hiding. Intentional communication with people that matters should mean something… it shouldn’t be confined to words on a screen.

After Lent, I’m going to try and give social media up for a while. (or at least as much as I can – I’m not sure how that’ll work when a chunk of my job relates to this… but I’m sure we can work that out)

So, I’m setting myself a challenge – to work on verbal communication. To become more confident with that form of communication, and realise that sometimes it’s ok to not have my phone in my pocket.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:6