August 21, 2012

How Do You Answer Big Questions?

The big questions keep coming my way. Even though my husband retired from ministry a year ago, my identity as one who can field and perhaps offer insight to difficult questions continues. A few years ago I even completed a two-year course of study at the Benedictine monastery in Indianapolis to become a spiritual director. Although I learned a lot about the desert fathers and mothers and other influential persons across denominations, when I get asked "big questions," I still struggle to find some sort of comforting answer. I find that no amount of training can ever prepare me for these persistent questions. I am grateful when God steps in, and provides answers; although, the words come from my mouth, they are not truly mine.

Although I do spiritual direction with persons individually, people often come up and ask me those big questions in Target, the library, the grocery store parking lot, at my kitchen table. Perhaps you attract them too.

Here is a question that came my way this week. Today I was at the library, tutoring a student. Her mother mentioned that she received a notice from her church to work in childcare. The mother said, "I felt terrible that I couldn't volunteer. I got the notice on Wednesday for the following Sunday. We already had plans for a family gathering Sunday morning. Am I a bad Christian because I said no?"

My answer to Judy: "No, you are not a bad Christian. Sometimes things don't work out. There will be other times when you can volunteer."

The question I asked myself was, "Why does this woman put a negative judgement on her life? Why did she frame it as being a good or bad Christian? Who told her she couldn't reasonably say no?

How would you have answered? What do you say when people ask you big questions out of the blue? Who do you turn to when you have big questions?

Fishers, Indiana

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