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I don’t know – but know someone who does

Regular contributor Jane Walters has been reflecting that, as we get older, we realise that we have the answers to fewer and fewer of life’s questions.

I’m not one for being on Twitter very much, but the other day I was mindlessly scrolling through when I came across something amusing. The post went along these lines: ‘I asked my followers what IDK means. So far, 642 people have told me they don’t know.’ The joke is, of course, that IDK stands for I Don’t Know and, as these things often do, it set me to thinking further.
One of my clearest impressions of my life as a young mother was how often I was called upon to come up with an answer. Whether the question was, ‘where’s my schoolbag?’ or ‘what happened to the dinosaurs?’ or ‘what’s for dinner?’, the assumption was that Mum would know.
I think we all grow up believing that adults know everything and, by extension, that when we get there ourselves, we will have inherited that same capacity. Instead, the older I get, the more I realise not just how much I don’t know but how many things in life don’t have easy answers and how many seem to have no answer at all.
However capable or educated or intelligent we are, sooner or later we will come across situations in life that remind us of our limitations. Right now, I have friends who are in the throes of vicious cancer, facing family separation and anxieties that are deeply rooted. What do we say to the questions that spring from those challenges?
A phrase I heard Ruth Rice use on a podcast about mental health was, ‘There is a God, and it isn’t me!’ Having suffered a breakdown herself, it was with relief that she had leaned into the truth that she didn’t have to do life on her own. She didn’t have to depend on her own strength or her own wisdom. There was Someone above and beyond it all, who knows the answers to our deepest questions, who holds the mysteries of life in His hands.
I know this won’t satisfy some but, for me, it brings me enormous comfort. When others around me have burdens, my efforts to help them don’t result in me bearing the weight of them. When they ask me for advice or even an opinion, I can simply say, ‘I don’t know’ without feeling I’ve been useless, because I follow it with, ‘but I know Who does.’
The words to an old song sum it up perfectly – it might be worth looking it up:
I do not know what lies ahead,
The way I cannot see.
But One stands near to be my guide,
He’ll show the way to me.
I know who holds the future…

And that’s enough for me.

The image above is courtesy of pixabay.com.

Jane Walters 175Jane Walters, formerly Clamp, is the author of Too Soon, a mother’s journey through miscarriage (SPCK) and a regular contributor to Premier Radio and UCB. She leads creative writing retreats and is a popular speaker locally and further afield. Visit: www.janeclamp.com


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