I Don’t Know Everything
As an analyst by trade, people expect me to have answers. At least, they expect me to have done my homework and come to the (meeting) table prepared to answer questions.
This is good and bad. Good because, preparation.
Bad, because I’ve grown accustomed to thinking that since I’m expected to have the answers, if I don’t have them immediately ready, I am afraid I’ll be perceived somehow as a failure. In fact, there have been times I’ve resorted to just making something up if I don’t have an answer readily available. Granted, the made-up answers are generally plausible and believable, but I was never entirely positive that there was any truth to them.
Over time, I came to realize that responding “I don’t know” to a question was a form of disrespect for the other person. It did nothing to increase my integrity or believability with another person, let alone add to any level of trust. And in disrespecting another person that way, I saw that instead of being perceived as someone who knew everything all the time, I was being perceived actually as flippant and irresponsible.
I don’t know…
So one day, I decided to answer “I don’t know” to a question I really did not have an answer to. My worst fear of being thought of as stupid or unprepared was not realized. No. What I saw instead was a flicker of interest in the other person’s eyes as I added, “but I will find out for you and let you know.”
I saw a correlation between this and prayer. If we approach God with an attitude of already knowing everything because we think that we’re supposed to have everything figured out on our own, it is counter-productive to our own growth and development. Not only do we deprive ourselves of the blessing of having an intimate moment of vulnerability with our Father in Heaven, but we deprive Him of the opportunity to bless us to the fullest extent that He really wants to.
If we do not ask for help, we are not eligible for the richest blessings.
If we do not admit to God, “I don’t know; please help,” we are, in effect, damning our own progression. Literally putting a mental and spiritual damn in place that stops heaven’s blessings pouring over our heads.
In 1 Nephi 11, Nephi is asked a question by the angel who is explaining Lehi’s vision to him. The angel says, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” I am almost certain that if an angel were asking me questions, I would probably have a mad mental scramble, grasping for any information I might have heard or learned about regarding that question. But not Nephi. No, Nephi flat-out confesses in verse 17, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things.”
…But I know I don’t know
I love Nephi for that answer. When asked about the nature of God he starts with the basic, “God loves all his children, including me. That much I know.” Then by saying what he does not know (which is essentially everything else), opens himself up to an immense learning experience. This is Nephi’s version of, “Yes, and?” Teach me more. Show me. What would you have me learn about God’s nature, about His Son, and how those things can enrich my life?”
Confessing to God, “I don’t know,” when expressed in humility and not anger, with a desire to learn and be taught, may well be one of the greatest questions we can ever ask Him.
The answers will come, when we are ready for them. And just as I was able to spark a deeper level of trust with my coworker when I confessed I did not know something, we can develop a deeper level of trust and intimacy with God.
Then come great answers, built on the foundation of trust and hope and faith that He does love us.
“It is only by yielding to God that we can begin to realize His will for us. And if we truly trust God, why not yield to His loving omniscience? After all, He knows us and our possibilities much better than do we.” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Willing to Submit,” April 1985 General Conference.)