What are you looking for?
I’m reading the book, Curious: The unexpected power of a question-led life by Tom Hughes. It examines the fact that Jesus only answered four questions directly out of the 182 asked of him in recorded history.
The other 178, he answered with a question (or sometimes a story).
One of the quotes from the book is:
“Jesus upends our modern infatuation with clarity.”
That hit me.
I love clarity. I am a big ‘ol, huge fan of it. The feeling of certainty that defines clarity…well, it’s like a scratch that gets really well itched. Uncertainty feels physically uncomfortable to me.
The tension of indecision? Ambiguity? *shudder*
It’s interesting to consider clarity to be a modern idea, though. But I guess it’s true….I think we have gotten very uncomfortable with NOT KNOWING SOMETHING FOR CERTAIN. And we aren’t very good at making choices without it. I mean, it used to be that if you weren’t sure what kind of milk someone meant when they added it to the grocery list, you’d just make your best guess and move on. Now, it’s a quick text to someone at home. and an impatient wait of seconds while they respond. Don’t know the answer to a question? Just google it. Look it up. Send a quick message to someone who knows.
We love knowing things. And we are very uncomfortable with NOT KNOWING SOMETHING FOR CERTAIN.
Let me say it this way: I am very uncomfortable with NOT KNOWING SOMETHING FOR CERTAIN.
I want info, answers, data. Graphs and neon signs would be nice.
But there are just so many things we can’t google. Or, at least, so many things for which we don’t know the right question to ask to find the answer.
And I feel like I have been looking for clarity for so long, asking the same question over and over:
‘What am I supposed to do with my life?’
Look, I know that I should know by this point. Or at least have given up asking like a reasonable person.
And I also get that it’s kind of a privileged question to be able to ask. I mean, most people just go the direction that their parents or circumstances (or both) point them in and ignore the unrest in their spirits about the whole thing. Though, with varying levels of success. (Addictions, anyone? Or mid-life crisis? Anxiety? Depression?)
I have longed for clarity to that question with gut-wrenching tears and a persistent not-quite-dull ache in my heart.
But look at this question Jesus gave back as a response to a few of his future followers. It was after John the Baptist told his own followers to follow Jesus instead. The question Jesus asks them quite literally took my breath away. Not in a graceful, wonder-filled way. But somewhere between a punch in the gut and as if it were being pulled from me.
Upon noticing the people following him, Jesus turns and asks: ‘What are you looking for?’
What are you looking for?
Just sit in that for a minute.
It is a very clarifying question and it demands honesty in it’s response.
What am I looking for?
I’ve felt this longing in my heart to not only matter, but also to be useful. The author called it out later as ‘significance’. People look for security, belonging, love, etc. But I think the core of what I long for is significance, more than anything.
And right this exact minute in my life, I struggle with how my days are shaped with all the hard (but wonderful) things our family does that just keeps me in a home-building space all the time.
And I know that’s important.
But I feel like I am constantly in support mode, never getting to stretch my gifts and talents. (<-yes, I realize some of my gifts and talents are used in this mode.)
I have struggled with fitting writing into this crazy life. I wish I didn’t want to do it so much because it would be easier to just settle into my mom support mode, but I want to teach, encourage, REACH people with hope in my writing…
What am I looking for? To matter.
But, I mean, we all want that. How do I want to ‘matter’? I already matter to my family, so where is this itchy spot that wants clarity going to be satisfied?
What am I looking for? Where I can make a difference. Where people encounter me and I help shift them along so they can know what they are looking for. And they know they can find it. They have hope.
I wish it looked like a roadmap, but it doesn’t. It looks like not sitting and waiting for some perfectly clear answer. I suspect it looks like just doing something—most anything, really. Even an uncertain try of a thing. A cobbled together, hopeful, thought process that gives me an idea of a thing. And then muster up the courage to do the thing, even without a neon sign to guide my way.
Maybe what I am really looking for is courage, not clarity. If I just keep waiting for the clarity that won’t come without motion, I don’t have to gain courage.
Because you only need courage if you are about to do something hard and outside your current level of growth as a human.
You know, something significant.