Sitting with the Questions

 Generally, what is more important than getting watertight answers is learning to ask the right questions.”           – Madaleine L’Engle

A couple of years ago, two very different young women asked me a series of questions to which I did not have good answers. In fact, I didn’t have answers at all.

One of the young women, a single mom in her early twenties, asked me to help her wade through her questions about religion and Christianity, and the blind certainty of some of her loved ones. The other gal, a senior in college, simply asked me, as an educated and enlightened woman, why I believed the way I did.

It was rather ironic.

 I’ve tried to make sense, not only of the questions themselves, but the timing in which both women sought me out. I had been asking myself the same questions. They wanted to know what I knew for certain, but all I knew was that my own certainties were melting away.

My peer group, not surprisingly, was as certain as I had always been. They had answers to give me, but those were the ones I already knew. The ones I had memorized. I was an expert in having the correct response. Now I wasn’t so sure. The more I dug, the more holes I found.

All this knocked the wind out of me and as I gasped for breath and for answers, a wise woman told me it was OK not to know. She told me to learn to sit in the discomfort of the uncertainty.

This was new to me. Having the rug pulled out from under me again and again in my childhood, I developed a craving for consistency. For certainty. For solid answers. Now I was walking away from the ideas and people who clung where I used to cling. Where did that leave me?

It left me holding a knapsack full of questions and it left me feeling lost and untethered. Who could I trust? What was the truth? Where did I go from here? After many months, I caught my breath, steadied it, and learned to rely on its simplicity. My unanswered questions weren’t the enemy. Uncertainty wouldn’t hurt me.

Uncertainty was a safe place to start over.

Copyright © 2017 – Paulla Estes

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