Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Questions Questions

Sometimes, people don’t really want answers for their questions. What they want is to know that, by posing those questions, they aren’t alone in their confusion.

It’s like the classic questions. Why does God allow good people to suffer? Why is this happening to me? It’s one thing if your theology or philosophy professor poses such a question in class. Having a friend ask it in the middle of a crisis is quite another.

I was thinking about questions last night, working on my Killer Year Blog Post. Again, not the original thing I planned to blog on. Instead, the thing that was weighing on my mind at the time.

I received a letter that was, essentially, a long list of those heavy questions. And the person had every reason to ask those questions.

It got me thinking about how, sometimes, people don’t want answers. What they want is to be heard. One of things that makes a real friend is that they don’t try to fix everything by giving you those answers.

They give you a shoulder, and they give you an ear.

In my own experience, there are some things that only time can address. Not because time is the solution, but because it takes time for us to work through it in our minds.

There aren’t magic formulas, say these five things and everything will be better. Yes, we want to fix problems for people we care about. And there will be times when they’re faced with something that we can help them solve.

But in the real, deep problems of life, most of the time there’s only one thing that matters. Knowing that no matter what, you’re there for them.

This is the heavy side of my thoughts. My Killer Year post is a much lighter look at the subject of questions, and answers.


Trace said...

I agree. Sometimes people just don't want to feel alone in what they're feeling and thinking. We want to be validated in what we think and feel.

I love those little notes to God :)

M. G. Tarquini said...

Nobody ever emails me asking big questions about life, the universe and everything. Mostly they just ask me for my bank account numbers so they can transfer me millions of dollars from where their trust funds are holding it in Nigeria.

I should start a regular column to rectify that. I'll call it:

Ask Lala

Bill Cameron said...

The gift of listening can sometimes be the best thing we can give someone. I know it's something I struggle with. I have this overpowering urge to "fix" things, to offer up answers. It's a genuine desire to help, but advice and answers aren't always needed or even wanted.

S. W. Vaughn said...

You know, I never considered that people might not actually want answers when they ask questions like that. It makes a lot of sense, and is something of a relief as I usually struggle to come up with an answer. I end up resorting to some lame, overused cliche like "When God closes a door, He opens a window." I don't know as that helps anyone much.

It's good to believe they need someone to listen. That, I can do.

Flood said...

I'm like Bill. When I hear a problem, I want to find solutions to help the person in conflict or whatever the case might be. There's a time for that, but when I complain, sometimes it's just venting and I know what the solution is, I just want to rant for a while.

angie said...

I've found that when "those questions" are asked, the real questions are the unspoken ones. Stuff like, "do you give a shit? will you listen to me? am I alone in this?" Your answer to those questions are far more important than any advice or solution you may have to offer.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Mindy, an Ask Lala column would be hysterical. And well worth reading!

Bill, SW, Flood - isn't it funny how much we're tempted to want to "fix" things? I do struggle with that sometimes.

I think I finally figured it out when my husband did that to me and I said, "I don't want answers, I just want to complain."

Trace, Angie - that's exactly it. And the thought of those subliminal questions Angie, that's keen insight.

JamesO said...

"I don't want answers, I just want to complain."

I'm going to print that up large and post it on the noticeboard at work;}#

Sandra Ruttan said...

It'll become the employee slogan!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

You're so right Sandra...Women usually understand that you just want to be heard. And mostly men logically try to fix it!