I’m not quite sure why, but I always thought I was supposed to have all the answers. It didn’t come from an arrogant place of thinking I knew it all; it came from an insecure place of feeling stupid when I was clueless. It branched out to all areas of my life: current events, career, social interactions, motherhood, you name it. I wasn’t completely ignorant. In fact, I graduated college with a high grade point average. It’s just that it’s impossible to know everything; yet I wasn’t confident enough to admit that.
So I kept my secret to myself. I never asked clarifying questions because that would reveal how much I didn’t know. Instead, I developed a few techniques to compensate. If someone else seemed knowledgeable, and I liked how they responded to certain situations, I’d copy them. If a topic came up I knew nothing about, I’d either subtly guide the other person towards filling in the blanks for me, or I’d casually change the subject.
Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question. Acts 15:2
In Acts 15, when the question arose whether the Gentiles had to be circumcised according to Mosaic practice or not, Paul and Barnabas didn’t know the answer. What I love, and what inspires me, is that they admitted this to everyone. Then they traveled up to Jerusalem to get the right answer from the apostles. If they could admit what they didn’t know, why couldn’t I?
It takes years to undo a life-long defense mechanism. But God wants what’s best for us, and will lead us to it if we let Him.
He led me to a book club where one woman openly admitted what she didn’t know. She’d ask question after question to learn. Although I presumed people would look down on me if I admitted something I didn’t know, I found I looked up to her for her courage to go in search of the answers. Additionally, I met countless women on the playground over the years who readily admitted they didn’t have a clue about motherhood. This gave me permission to do the same.
However, it’s in guiding my kids that I’ve learned to admit my shortcomings the most, and seek out the answers. I don’t want to give my kids wrong information when they ask a question. More importantly, I don’t want them to carry the weight of pretending that I did for all those years. I learned the hard way how exhausting that is.
Instead, I want to role-model for them that it’s okay to not know, and to go in search of the answers with confidence. As a result, I now routinely ask my mom, friends, Google, and total strangers for the answers I don’t have.
Above all, I go to God. Whether I search something out in His Word, or sit quietly listening for His voice, I’ve found He’s the one Who guides me best. He knows me inside and out, backstory and all. He even knows when I’m asking the wrong question and don’t even know it.
Now I realize we were made to NOT know everything. It causes us to lean on others; which in turn builds community. Above all, it causes us to look to the All-Knowing One, who is always ready and waiting to give us the answers we seek.
Copyright 2018 Claire McGarry