“We tend to lose track of the questions about things that matter always, life-and-death questions about meaning, purpose, and value. To lose track of such deep questions as these is to risk losing track of who we really are in our depths and where we are really going.” – Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life
Questions can be magical. The right kind of question can change the world, or at least your own heart, which is where all lasting transformation and redemption must start.
A good question is an invitation. Asking another person an honest, gentle, open question invites that person to be seen and heard. When we allow another person’s story to lay bare in the space between us, our hearts open up, maybe just a little bit–stretching to embrace the story, which includes the soul telling it.
The best questions–the kind of questions that can change your life–aren’t meant to be answered right away. These questions are another sort of invitation. An invitation to live the questions. An invitation to go deeper. An invitation to take back your listening. An invitation to make space for stillness and waiting. An invitation to listen to the One who whispers the way forward.
I started out by looking for answers, but the questions have changed my life.
There are plenty of people out there who are willing to give you their advice. There are plenty of people who know the answers and want to make sure that you also know them. Sometimes advice is good and sometimes advice is what we need.
But the people who have touched my life in ways that run deep, who have been instruments of transformation, did not give me answers, advice, or a plan. They gave me questions–really good questions. Questions for me to ask, to live, to listen for.
Sometimes I need help finding my questions–the questions that I need to ask. This is one reason why my spiritual director and mentors have such an important role in my life. But they cannot listen for me. They cannot tell me what my answers are. Learning to take back my own listening has been and continues to be life changing and soul transforming.
Sometimes I ask my questions out loud. Often I write them in my journals. When I pray, I sometimes picture holding these questions in open hands and releasing them to hang in the space around me. I try not to ask too many questions at one time.
I thought I would share a few of the questions that have shaped and transformed me over the past few years. Maybe a few will resonate with you.
- Who are you God? (It is okay to ask this question.)
- Who am I?
- What have you made me for?
- What is the next step for my journey?
- Do you love me God?
- Where does this “Not Enough” message come from?
- What should replace it?
- How do you work God?
- How are you present around me?
- How am I supposed to “be”?
- What do I need to let go?
Somehow, I keep finding new questions: questions that move me forward slowly and quietly into a faith that is tangible and real, even if somewhat uncertain.
“When you hear the question that is your question, then you have already begun to hear much.”