The Powerful Possibilities in Pondering Questions
Questions can be a powerful spiritual tool that helps us hear God, stretch and grow and stay alive, not dormant and stale. What are the powerful possibilities in pondering questions?
For a long time, I thought life consisted of finding the answers and playing by those rules. I didn’t like the tension between knowing and the living in the gray area of unknowing. I used to seek the supremacy of feeling you are in control, having your act together, wearing the prettiest mask.
Questions leave us unsettled and searching. Questions magnify what we already know that we don’t know and are not in control. Questions rouse us from our comfort zones to enter the unfamiliar mystery of life and faith.
As I gain the wisdom (HA!) of the second half of life, I am finding I like to stay with the questions longer – lingering in their unfolding. The green bud of curiosity and taking that second bite of an emotion or situation and allowing it to melt slowly melt in my consciousness. Growth tastes better after simmering than a quick microwavable tasteless answer. Life occurs in the powerful possibilities in pondering questions.
It seems to me Lord that we search much too desperately for answers, when a good question holds as much grace as an answer. Jesus, you are the Great Questioner. Keep our questions alive, that we may always be seekers rather than settlers. Guard us well from the sin of settling in with our answers hugged to our breasts. Make of us a wondering, far-sighted, questioning, restless people And give us the feet of pilgrims on this journey unfinished.
Questions fuel our curiosity that leads to new ideas and insights. Problems that seem at one time insurmountable now have possible solutions. Answers lure us into comfort ruts while questions energize us to explore deeper and newer horizons.
Instead of rushing to answers, lingering longer with questions empower and enable us to keep moving forward into new territory. We discover we have more courage than we thought. We deepen our roots of faith. We dwell in hope. We find God present even in the unknown and in the powerful possibilities of pondering questions.
Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers;
it comes from being open to all the questions.
Earl Gray Stevens
I have been listening to the questions in my heart lately as I thought about the power of this spiritual tool. I was surprised to find I am using questioning much more than I realized to hear God and to reframe my mindset to his word.
Here are example of questions I heard just the past few days:
- Where am I right now? I love how in Genesis, God looks for Adam and Eve – knowing where they are and what they have done, yet asking “Where are you?” I ask this question most days in my morning time with God and just the question, not necessarily the answer, guides my prayer.
- What is the invitation in this emotion/circumstance/word/interaction? What is God unfolding for me to receive? Am I willing and ready to receive his gift? I am not good at naming my emotions. I like to stuff them under food and busyness instead of holding them in my hand and learning from them. When I ask these questions, I better deal with what is stirring in my heart.
- Am I asking the right question? Not “why does this always happen to me?” but reframing my negative self-talk into what is real.
- What am I learning? How am I stimulating my brain and discovering new thoughts? I am excited to begin an online course next week from Denmark all about Hans Christian Andersen and how he as a writer crafted folktales. What fun and I bet this new information will empower my brain’s synapses for new connections and creativity.
- What am I most grateful for? What am I the least grateful for? My bedtime daily examen.
- What has worked for me before and how can I bring more of that into my life now? What is no longer working?
When discerning or facing a challenge, here are questions that I spend time with:
- What are my options? Multiple options exist if we only seek them. (tweet)
[Tweet ” Multiple options exist if we only seek them. “]
- What if? Explore those possibilities.
- What is the worse that could happen? What if I fail? What if I succeed?
- What does this make possible? I love this article by Michael Hyatt containing this powerful question.
- Will this decision make a difference in 10 years?
- What is my next step? What is the most important move to make that will have the best impact? What is my stretch goal for this area of my life?
- Will this draw me away from God or towards God?
- What will nourish my soul?
- How can I help? How do I best show love in this situation? Be love?
- How can I better understand? After 10 years of being a journalist, I still rely on the 5 W’s – who, what, where, when and why. If I take the time to objectively use these 5 clarifiers, I gain insight and new perspectives.
- What question is bubbling up within me or around me right now? Listen to yourself and what story you are telling your own soul.
A classic and a favorite quote about questions:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Let’s talk about the possibilities of using questions as a spiritual tool. What do you think? What questions do you pray with? What do you think are the powerful possibilities in pondering questions?
Dolly @ Soulstops.com says
Jean, I love this! I think being able to live into the questions, for me, has been about trusting God enough to ask the questions because he isn’t threatened (like some) by my questions. He’s secure and big enough to handle them. Blessings to you, joy buddy!
Jean Wise says
Yes yes Dolly trust is huge in the ability to sit with questions, the uncertainty, and the unknown – when we can’t control what’s happening or when something, like our books, our babies, will get done! I know there is joy in questions, the discovery, the curiosity, but sometimes it is hard to find. Hope you have a terrific joy filled week!
Lisa notes says
I love this post, Jean. And I love the timing! I’m writing a post on Questions myself (I’ll be up to the letter “Q” on Thursday) so I’ll definitely include a link to your blog. My dad was a master at encouraging us to always ask questions and not be satisfied with the first answer we hear.
Truth–> “Answers lure us into comfort ruts while questions energize us to explore deeper and newer horizons.”
Jean Wise says
Can’t wait to read your question post tomorrow. A good choice for the letter Q. Thanks for linking. What a neat legacy from your dad being encouraged to ask questions. I read last fall the book Searching For Sunday and her restlessness within the church was because she didn’t feel invited to ask questions and sit with them. There is power to question – one we don’t tap into enough.
Dolly @ Soulstops.com says
Lisa, Love this!
Hi Jean! My spiritual questions usually revolve around ‘Am I doing what you want me to do?’ I think all people of faith ask that, because we want to be good tools in the hands of the Father.
Your idea about resting with questions is interesting. As nurses, isn’t there always an uneasy, restlessness in the face of a lack of diagnosis? Why, why, why…. and time is always of the essence.
But this is spiritual of course, and jumping too quickly, or trying to answer without prompting can be a confusing business. I hope I become more relaxed in the face of uncertainty. I do think there is more wisdom in us in the second half of life. Certainly Richard Rohr thinks so!
Jean Wise says
That is a great question to add to this list, Ceil! I agree it is easier to want the answers, often settling for the first answer which may not be the best. I am learning to accept the slow work of God. well maybe not gracefully though. LOL