With so many doubts swirling in my head — sometimes loud and shouting, sometimes sneaky and whispering, sometimes more of an image of a word following by a question mark than actual thoughts — I am reduced to acknowledging: I JUST DON’T KNOW.
I don’t know.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how it all fits. And I don’t want to have that solid, certain assurance anymore, the assurance that reassures that I’m right, that I know what I’m talking about, that if I just debate a little longer or talk a little louder or use bigger words perhaps I will convince anyone who disagrees with me; because I’m coming to see there are just some things I don’t know.
And I think I’m coming to see that that’s okay. And that I’m okay with that. Or maybe not so much okay with that, as coming to an understanding of it and thinking that maybe it’s a better place to be than repeating smug, formulaic, easy, and stale answers. Maybe not knowing is better than “winning” debates with all the wrong answers to all the wrong questions. Maybe being in a state of questioning allows me to sit in a position of learning and listening.
There are some things I do know — at least for now:
I love compassion. And mercy. And empathy for the suffering of others. I know kindness is a good thing. Respect for the dignity of others is so rare, but so much more valuable for its rarity. I know a listening ear gains much more ground than a shouting mouth. Humility is so attractive. I know we could all use a hand up sometimes, and while it’s far more blessed to be the one extending that hand than to be the one needing it, we all have to take our turn on the receiving end.
I know life is precious, beauty is there for those who seek it, and sometimes life and its hidden beauty are enough to see us through one more day.
I know I need my people more than I realize. I know they need me, maybe more than I realize. I have a sneaking suspicion that the things we think we hold dear are probably not the things we would first rescue if our house was on fire. I also know I sometimes need the reminder that we all need rescued.
I know love is so critically important that we die without it. I know we are all lonely and looking for someone who sees us as we really are. I know that being seen for who I really am scares the pants off me, that it’s both what I want and what I’m terrified of.
I know each of us is inherently gifted, that we all have something to offer, and the world is a much poorer place without our contribution. The skills we have are given in order to bless others, and they also represent some of the most difficult areas to share, these places of our vulnerability.
I know labels hurt and pride isolates and words can injure. I know my position of “being right” removes me from having any real impact. I know that when I smugly sit in a seat of judgment I alienate those who seem to need help the most, when in reality it is I, myself, who needs the most help.
I know second chances, and grace, change everything. I know an apology sinks in deeper than an excuse; that a soft word of encouragement echoes more loudly than a yell of correction; that the two extra seconds required to smile at a stranger just may make all the difference in her day.
I know there are those who are hungry and cold and alone and lonely and desperate and sick and oppressed and imprisoned, and I don’t know why I am not. (I guess that one belongs in the “I don’t know” column). I know I can live with strength and courage and integrity and gratitude, and I’m afraid all that won’t change the lives of those who are hungry and cold and lonely and desperate and sick and oppressed and imprisoned. Or maybe it will…
Because it will change my life. And that might change the lives of those in direct contact with me. And it might even, in a ripple effect, slowly, one wave at a time, reach them (the hungry and cold and lonely…) eventually. In living with passion, intentionality, and purpose; in resolving to be compassionate; to be the hand who reaches to help; to be the one who offers food and shelter and comfort; to have a word of encouragement on my lips and an eye out for the good in others; in admitting that “I don’t know”… maybe that can change some things about this place so those who are hungry and cold and alone and in all those sad conditions will be a little fewer in number than they were before. Maybe if each one of us knew enough to know that, our children and the generations coming on behind us will be able to make even more of a difference.
I don’t know.
But I do hope. And I know hope can make a world of difference.