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I Don't Know

In college, my favorite professor always taught us that when public speaking, you should never try to cover if you don't know the answer. Just say "I don't know" - because 99% of the time the person asking the question already knows the answer - they just want to know if you do. Grappling, pretending, punting - none of them work when you don't know. He taught us to answer like this, "That is a great question. My research didn't cover that particular aspect, but I'd love to talk to you more after this session." I have said similar words more than once. Once I had a question where I responded, "I have no idea. I am a deer in the headlights." Fortunately, the response I received was tender and caring - and appreciative of my honesty. AND - I learned something new, which opened ways to new conversations.


I have also entertained questions from many children over the years, including my own, that I did not know how to answer. When they are little, they ask fun, big questions. Sometimes they make you laugh and sometimes they perplex you. They aren't afraid of asking. But as we grow, we have deeper questions and harder answers. Why do people suffer? Why do bad things happen? How do I stop hurting? What decision should I make next? How do I say goodbye? These are questions that can no longer be soothed with a Kool-Aid and a band-aid.


The more I learn the more I realize I don't know. It is hard to not know, to not be sure, to not have all the answers. Yet, life invites us to sometimes just surrender to the not knowing. To own up to the fact that there is just a lot we don't know, that we can't know. So, we sit together in the quiet and listen. We bring forth our not knowing and accept our humanity. We admit we are not all knowing. And we grow.


“I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful to me, which I did not know.”

Job 42:3


“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” - Cheryl Strayed



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