At service today, Bro. Jim taught a sermon on effective communication. He was naming tools for engaging in effective conversations, and he said something that really struck me (like lightening to a naked bottom). Jim said, “‘I don’t know’ is not an answer.”
Ughhhhhhh. I have been saying that so much since I came home from Africa. In fact, when it rolls off my tongue it feels like the only real thing to sum up what I feel, where I am, and what my plans are for the future…I don’t know. The things, people and plans that I thought were soooooo important prior to June seem rather…mehhhhhhhh…so how can “I don’t know” not be an answer?
I turned to Google (As I always do in a question crisis), and it suggested I replace my “I don’t knows” in life with “I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer that.” That’s a decent answer, right? But if I said that to myself or anyone wouldn’t that be a lie? Aren’t I the only person that can be me? Why then would I not be the best person to answer concerning my own life? I started imagining my life as a company, My Life Incorporated. Not only am I CEO of My Life (here on earth anyways), but I run every department. I know the ins and outs of me and have all the background knowledge on My Life. I know all my quirks and idiosyncrasies. Because I have all this information, I am the only one who can oversee the project of ME to ensure quality production. I am the expert on being me. Therefore, I am the best person to answer these questions life is asking me about me. Hmmmm…can’t use that one. Next choice.
“Who knows?” Google actually suggested this rhetorical question as a way to replace “I don’t know.” Sounds insane, right? But there are times when we hunch our shoulders and answer Life with a big “Who knows?” This answer says, “I’ve given up on knowing myself. I’m leaving my life up to chance. I’m depending on someone else to figure this thing out for me. I need a pass on life right now.” Well that is certainly no way to live. Again I started thinking about my corporation. If a fire broke out at the headquarters of My Life Incorporated and Myself asked Me and I about the emergency exits and the response was “Who knows (shoulder shrug),” Myself would be pissed and possibly die of smoke inhalation. Do I want to kill myself? Do any of us want to leave our entire existence in the hands of “Who knows?” because isn’t that a sort of spiritual suicide? And if we do, on the day we wake up realizing what a waste we’ve been, can we be mad at anyone other than ourselves? Hmmmm…can’t use that one either. Next choice.
“That’s exactly what I’m seeking to answer.” Now here’s a response I can get with. This reply says, “I can’t quite make out the shape in the distance, but I know that it is there and it is only for me, so I am going to keep pushing towards it.” Seeking is active. It’s not sitting idly by leaving everything up to chance. Seekers are eternal students constantly finding new levels of awareness and hope. Seekers are movers. They know there is a greater mark to press towards and choose to keep questioning, answering, falling, and getting back up again until they arrive at the best possible answers and actions to Life’s questions. Seekers may not be sure of what they will find, but they know it is out there and instead of hiding in fear of the unknown, instead of being stagnant, instead of waiting on “it” to come to them, seekers keep going until they get to “it.” I like that answer.
You see, “I don’t know” implies a lack of confidence. I don’t lack confidence. I have no doubt that whatever God has marked as mine will only be mine. But “seeking” implies courage because even when it doesn’t know what the future holds, it knows that as long as it’s alive it’s got a hold on the future.–Sean Johnson