Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Why

I never considered myself a scientist. Growing up, I wasn't the type to take toys apart to see their inner workings or do my own experiments. When I went to St. John's College (The Great Books School), I didn't quite get it when they said that the most important thing students had to learn was how to ask good questions.

After four years of hearing them, though, I get it. And I agree--it's the most valuable tool my education gave me. The ability not just to question, but to question rightly. To question in a way that will lead me to answers, not circles.

And so now, as I look at the world around me, I ask "Why?" I ask "How?" I ask, "But what if it were this way? What would change?" And as events unfold, I try to find the reasons, the patterns, the keys. My questioning is always rooted in faith that God's got it all under control, so my view is no doubt different from an atheist's. My questioning is part of who I am. Part of what I do. Part of what makes me me.

I've asked a lot of "why"s lately. When we were presented with an unexpected answer to a vehicular need several months ago, I didn't just accept it with a smile and go about my merry way. I began to pray. Because I knew, I knew quite certainly, that this wasn't just God tossing me a boon. This was God preparing us for a change. This was God saying, "I'm removing some burdens," not because they were too heavy then...but because they would have become so. There was a why to that gift, and to the gift of the house we just moved into.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me see that, so I didn't squander it.

Earlier this week, my best friend texted me from the ER--her 3-year-old son had just had a seizure. The easy answer--that it was triggered by a high fever--was not the answer. He hadn't been sick. And so they had to look for the why. Tumor? No, praise the Lord. Bleeding? No, which is another praise. But that leaves them with unanswered questions. What triggered it? Will it happen again?

No answers. And so we pray, and praise Him that little Connor is acting himself, with no lasting effects.

And then there are the career questions. Why do some things hit and others flop? Why do some of the most talented writers stay mid-list? Where do I fit in this publishing world? Will an award ever come my way? A spot on the best-seller list?

I don't know, and I'm not a big fan of not-knowing here either, any more than I am when it comes to medical questions. I like answers. Preferably neat and tidy ones that are also solutions.

But learning to question rightly has also taught me that very rarely are the answers simple. For that matter, very rarely are they actual answers. Questions, true questions, don't lead you to Yes or No. They lead you to more questions. They lead you on a journey.

Through faith, I can say that I don't know what the path will look like, but I know where it ends. I know the goal. I know the One guiding me. I know my feet are traveling the road they need to travel.

I know there will be endless questions along the way. I'm never going to know all the Whys. And today, as I look out over the future and wonder what it might hold--for me, for my family, for my friends and their families--I see one of the greatest truths. That life and faith aren't about knowing. They're about seeking, and about bravely marching on despite the uncertainty.

The test of life isn't about the answers. It's about how we react to the questions.


  1. Roseanna, thank you for this one. It's so insightful and wise.

    "Questions, true questions, don't lead you to Yes or No. They lead you to more questions. They lead you on a journey."

    That's a difficult thing to accept sometimes. Especially when we think we need answers to life's questions. You've put it in the perfect words.

    Now, how do I put this into action and accept it? That's a question I've wondered for years. I'm supposing I've figured it out, although I'm not sure I can put it into words exactly right. But here goes.

    My mantra the last few years has been "It is what it is." That has helped me to be less shocked by the surprises along the way, the interruptions to my best laid plans. When life doesn't go as planned, I have come to realize that God wanted me to make plans (to be active in the life He's given me), but that He would work out the plans He had for me despite what I had planned for myself. Sometimes it's hard to adjust, other times it's easy. Each time I grow closer to God because He holds the answers, especially when I can't see them. When we don't get to answers, when all our questions do is lead us to more questions, that's when we need to lean into God (who holds all the answers) and trust that He will lead us to whichever door He's opened for us.


    1. Amen! And when we know we're on the path he put us on, all those surprises--which might hurt, might shock, might thrill, might sadden--can then be treated as they ought to be. As just bumps and potholes, mountains and valleys along the wrong. Not a derailment. Not a new path. God knew all along they were coming!

    2. So true and very well said. :) Hope your weekend is blessed.