I have many questions,” she said as she sat in my car. It was raining heavily, and I had offered to drop her home.
“Bob,” she said, “I read what you write, but I can’t subscribe to all your beliefs!” It was a long car journey as the rains beat incessantly on the roof of the car, and the waters rose steadily outside.
I knew my driver was having a tough time navigating, but also knew I was having a tougher time trying to find answers to a young questioning mind! “I hope you didn’t mind all my questions?” she said as we reached her destination. I just had enough energy to wave her goodbye!
I’d been through quite a few similar instances, but another one I remember was a young American, again on a long car ride from Chicago to the suburbs questioning me about my beliefs.
I thought his questions over, turned them in my mind, and then made myself become a young boy again, asking for answers, and suddenly I understood what he was asking.
And from becoming that young boy again, or by becoming the young girl who sat in my car yesterday, I was able to understand and speak.
Very often we question the tone of the questioner and reply likewise! “How dare he question me?” we wonder. “How foolish of her!” “Is he questioning my authority?” are the thoughts that flood our minds.
But they are not. The fact that someone has questions, the fact they have the courage to ask you, shows they trust you to deliver understanding into their minds, with a sensitive attitude.
I remember so vividly, my daughter questioning her priest about something that had troubled her, about his behaviour. “How dare you!” was the tone and spirit of his reply. “How dare you have the audacity to question me?”
What an opportunity lost to have gently led a young mind up the right path but he had blown it with his own feelings of inadequacy. Yes, it’s your own feelings of inadequacy, inferiority and insecurity that stop you from giving answers.
Instead of looking at the question as an opportunity to help change thinking, we think it is an attempt to dethrone us and what we stand for!
Have you ever talked to a pup or any other pet you have? Watched it shaking its head from one side to another like a child? It’s reacting to your gentle tone.
In the same way, throw away your feelings of self importance, grab the opportunity of a good answer, use gentleness, and give answers that even if they don’t accept, will make the questioner think.
It’s not just parents or teachers or priests, but today’s political leaders who have to learn to being questioned, and answer with grace not anger. It’s tiring, but worth the effort.
Yesterday, I had just enough energy to wave her goodbye, but there was a joy deep within..!