“May I ask you a question?”

One of the things that I wanted to do this year was to ask a question every day. By that I mean, to ask someone about something. No agenda, just an information gathering, learn something kind of thing.

“Hi Helen. What’s the best book you know about fishing?”
“Hey Bernie. What’s the difference between magenta and fuchsia? How do you remember?”
“Eleanor. How have you processed the effects of Alzheimer’s?”

And I’ve not done it because I can’t figure out how to do it. I know, you just ask. You write a name and you write a question that you are curious about. But that’s not my preferred way of gathering information. I read, I search, I study. I do everything I can inside my head to find answers.

Why?

Part of it is, I suppose, learning styles. But I was talking to a friend about it recently and I just blurted out, “I never asked my dad for advice because he would give the whole answer and lay out a plan and would help do it.”

I know. He was being helpful. But when I think back, I realize that if I didn’t do it his way, I felt guilty or rebellious. So, I just stopped asking.

It means that in my head, for me to ask questions about what I don’t know give me the feeling of being in a position of insecurity with my dad. Which, I think, affects how I pray, too. For example, if I am believe that I need to figure out plans on my own, that I need to find answers, think about how that might shape my conversations with God. If I avoided asking curiosity  questions of my dad, how might that shape my conversation with God?

Make sense? What do you think? 🙂

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

3 thoughts on ““May I ask you a question?”

  1. What if asking questions isn’t simply learning new information. What if it’s more about a mindset of learning. What if your father would have said What would you like to know? What if he would have asked How can I help him here? He might have learned more about you. Too often my motivation in asking questions is to show what i know not really to help. Power Questions by Andrew Sobel has helped me think about ways to use questions in different situations. Thanks for the post Jon.

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  2. Interesting…

    Incidentally, when Paul writes, “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,” – that word Author? Is like one who asks questions. At least that’s what I remember.

    Give yourself grace, Jon. You ask lots of questions. It’s what makes you a good listener. And Author.

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  3. Asking good questions is really, really hard. Hard to know how to phrase them, until bam! It’s clear as day.

    I have a hard time asking questions because I so badly want to honor the person I’m asking.

    Yesterday I visited a professor of mine from 10 years back. as we finished our conversation, I asked him, “I’ve noticed – every time I stop by here, your door is always open. How come? Isn’t it hard to get work done.” he replied saying he keeps the door open at a strategic angle so he can eat his lunch without the whole world observing. But in the end he said, “It’s a ministry.” I hope he liked answering as much as I liked hearing the answer.

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