I’m a Questioner.
The annoying person that questions-the-answers… instead of answers-the-questions. When it comes to life… I have far more questions than I have answers. To be honest, “answers” don’t make sense to me any more. If something is an “Answer” – it implies that further questioning need not take place because – well – we already know The Answer.
When I was young – I was the worst kind of know-it-all. As a teenager, I believed I had all the answers to life’s tough questions. I was super-confident about all the “answers” I supposedly knew. However, as I grew older, the more I learned… and the more I learned… the more I came to realise how little I knew. The older I get – the more naive and ignorant I feel.
“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance”
I’m in a very different place from that young, know-it-all teenager who thought she knew and understood everything.
I am now willing to admit that – and, especially within the big scheme of things – that I know very, very little.
The same can be said of my religion. When I first became a Christian, I believed that I had access to The Truth… The Answers… The Right Way… The Only Way. For many years, I firmly believed that I “knew” everything that needed to be known about God, Life, the Universe and Everything. How pious I was. How certain I was. How sure I was that I had The Answers…. that I knew The Truth.
But age… growth… and journeying outside of the context and comfort zone of my own community / religion / culture / country… can do some funny things to people – and especially if they’re Questioners, like me.
The more I questioned my religion… the more I sought… the more I learned about Life… God… People… the Universe… and Everything – the less I realised that I knew… the less I understood… and the more the questions took the place of the answers.
There was also a time when I felt guilty about this. I worried that I didn’t have enough faith… that my questions were displeasing to God… that I should simply accept and embrace what the Bible said (and what other people said the Bible said) – and “believe”….
But I’m not even sure what that means anymore. What is “belief”? If you believe in something – what does that actually mean? Does the focus of our “belief” suddenly become the unquestionable non-negotiable? Should “belief” automatically wipe out all questions… or doubts? Is it ‘wrong’ to question?
But I’m a Questioner. Maybe that will change one day… but for now, it’s who I am.
I realise that not everyone is a Questioner. Some people are Knowers. Knowers are people who…. well… “know”. They know that their answers are “true” or “right”. They know that their way is the only way.
I went through a season of being a Knower (surprisingly, only within the context of my religion – because outside of that, I was still a Questioner through and through). And, of course, there was also that cringeworthy season of Teenage-Knowing – and judging by all the jokes and bumper stickers – I’d harbour a guess that most teens go through a season of knowing everything.
Not all Knowers are the same.
There are Knowers who hold many different beliefs. There are Christian Knowers: “I know that Jesus is the only way!”… and there are Atheist Knowers: “I know that there is absolutely NO God”… there are Muslim Knowers, Hindu Knowers, Jewish Knowers… well… you get the picture.
I’m not a Knower. I’m a Questioner… and everything is up for questioning and debate. Everything.
These days, I don’t pretend to know The Truth… or The Answers… or The “Right” Way. I no longer claim that I “know” who God is (or isn’t)… what God wants (or doesn’t want)… what God likes (or doesn’t like)… what God says (or doesn’t say). I no longer claim to “know”.
This doesn’t mean that I have no foundations or core values to anchor my life. There are a number of ideals that continue to make sense to me – and which somehow manage to withstand my constant barrage of questions. These are my pillars… my anchors… and they provide a compass for my life. I believe in Love… and Integrity… and Generosity… and Compassion…. and Honesty…. but mostly, and above all, I believe in Love (Hey – this smacks of a certain Bible verse!)
And the wonderful thing about love – is that it isn’t static. It changes… it grows… it evolves… it learns… it moves… it lives…
These days, I simply refer to God as “The Divine Mystery”… a lifetime of accumulated questions – with very few “answers”.
But – maybe that’s a good thing.
I enjoy the implied journey that a life of questions offers. And I love journeys. I love growth, learning, evolving, change, challenge, developing, learning-some-more… changing-some-more… and often times, that includes changing my mind.
I think that both Science and Religion could do with more questioning and less “knowing”… less “certainty”… less my-way-is-right-and-your-way-is-wrong.
After all, both religion and science have got it wrong (on many, many occasions).
Okay… I’m rambling. My brain is (as usual) firing off hundreds of random thoughts and ideas and I’m struggling to articulate all of it. I will end, however, will this wonderful video clip by a very talented and respected filmmaker. It’s only a short clip… just a few thoughts… but I can’t begin to tell you how much I resonate with what he says here.
“I never want to be perceived as someone who is static. It’s unnatural. Stasism is an unnatural form of being… because nothing in this universe is static. Everything is moving forward – it can’t help it. And so, any ideology that says ‘we are at the end of discovery about this thing’ – I just go, ‘well, there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that that’s true’. We are always, at the essence, at the beginning of infinity – no matter what we’re talking about… there’s always another iteration, there always will be… and that’s the fun of it”.
Have a quick listen…