Monday, March 30, 2009

Finding Answers vs. Finding Questions

I think the record for one of my kids at age three or four was 32 questions in a row. Daddy, why? And you string along a litany of “whys” and “becauses” until you are exhausted and finally end with either “I don’t know” or “BECAUSE I SAID SO!” Every parent goes through this rite of passage but is it a rite for your kids or for you?

I don’t believe, in the minds of the kids, the ANSWERS are important at all. That is why they so easily brush the answer aside, find a key word and attach a “why” to it to form the next question. Asking the question has a purpose beyond just getting an answer. I believe that when a child starts with “Daddy, why is the sky blue?” he or she is really asking “Daddy, will you pay attention to me?” and when, after the 13th question “But why can’t I eat my boogers?” he or she is really asking “Do you love me?” and after the 30th question “Daddy, but WHY do you and mom lock your bedroom door?” he or she is really asking: “Daddy, do you REALLY love me?”

Now let us transfer that same concept to adults. We, as adults, ask some of the stupidest questions but most of the time we really don’t want to know the answer; we have some other purpose in mind. Most often we want to make a statement. When we ask someone “what, are you stupid or something?” I really don’t think we are looking for them to answer the question, we are making a statement.

In a politically charged arena a reporter will ask the question “Why don’t you believe in a women’s right to choose?” and you should know immediately that the reporter is not really asking a question but making a statement. The statement, in the form of a question, from the opposite viewpoint would go like this: “Why do you believe a new mother should not kill her child by chopping it up into little pieces, sucking its little arms and legs up with a vacuum cleaner, and throwing the baby out with the trash?” Now is that a question or a statement with some kind of purpose in mind? The purpose is often to get you caught in an answer that can be manipulated to a headline: “Politician doesn’t support women” or “Politician wants to kill babies!”

When someone comes to me as a man of faith and asks “How can there be a God when there is so much bad in the world?” I can answer that question or I can seek to find the purpose behind it. Chances are they don’t want an answer or won’t be convinced no matter how good the answer is because THE ANSWER IS NOT WHY THEY ARE ASKING THE QUESTION!

When your child asks his 51st question in a row; scoop him up in your arms and say: “Because I love you!” When people ask stupid, strange, or loaded questions attempt to go behind the question and find the purpose. Life is not about finding answers; life is all about finding the RIGHT questions.

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