How comfortable are you living with the unknown?
I think there is an element in all of us that simply wants to understand our world to the exclusion of mystery. It would seem few people have pursued this kind of knowledge more than I. Obviously, my degrees in engineering, business, theology, statistics, and psychology reveal my attempts to do so. Yet, the more I have learned, the more I realize I don’t know.
This is not just a colloquial phrase, but it is something that I have come to grasp deeply in my soul. There is so much in this world that we simply will never know. In fact, some would say that an object can never fully understand itself because it is limited to viewing itself seen from within itself. Whether you agree or not with that phrase, how much wonder do you possess?
The sad thing for me is that so few people live in awe of their world. This awe comes from fully appreciating that we do not fully understand ourselves, others, or the world around us. Unfortunately, too many people live their lives in such a small sphere because they think they know all the answers to life. By the way, I think Christians (and other religious fanatics) are the worst at this.
They have put God into our own little box. They believe they understand God completely and know what he is thinking and always doing. They won’t admit it, but they act like it in the way they take sides, judge others, or make predictions of the future. My perspective is that my God is so much bigger than I can imagine. He is infinite. My little brain is so finite. When my finite brain completely understands the God of the universe, my god is too small. Surely, a god I can fully comprehend and understand is not one worth worshiping.
My God is so much greater than I will ever be able to understand. This positions me to be humble in my understanding. I hold them lightly and with a sense of curiosity. I fully acknowledge that I know what I know, but it is not all there is to know. I can live with knowing there are things I don’t know and will never know, at least as long as I am on this earth and a part of my current faculties.
This perspective keeps me open to learning from others I don’t understand or agree with. One of my mentors expressed my superpower, that is, my unique ability, as I have a passport with others. In other words, they give me permission to enter their lives in such a way that I can hear from and share deeply with them. This would seem to set me up to be a person who is able to understand others through assessment instruments and then speak the truth in love in ways they not only understand but appreciate, as the video showed last week.
I think this has been fostered by the perspective of living with a sense of God’s greatness, which is so far beyond me. There is so much I don’t know, so I live to learn from others and learn from the little things of this world every day.
However, I have noticed that this perspective wanes in my life when I become so busy and maintain a frenetic pace in life. The things that keep me preoccupied are often good things, very good things. So it isn’t the quality of what I am doing, but it is the pace at which I am doing them that causes me to lose touch with this wonder and awe in others. When I am in this mode, others become appointments to make, people to meet, talk with, solve problems, check them off, and move on.
At these times, I miss the created wonder of these individuals, as well as the intrigue in the world around me. I miss the unexpected shades in the color of a leaf, the shape of a bug, the crack in the sidewalk beneath my feet, or even my own consciousness to apprehend the grandeur of these.
It would appear to me that certain personality types may struggle with this more than others. As well as, certain insecurities can push us to justify our significance through what we do rather than being on a journey of becoming. However, our culture saturates everything around us with the perspective that we can know and do it all.
With all the information at our disposal through technology, it becomes too easy to live moment by moment in what we know. Whether through texts, social media, email, phone calls, google, or whatever information channel du jour you prefer, we are bombarded with things to know and understand. It leaves too little room for the quiet reflection of awe in what is around us. I pray that I will always take time to slow down and lean into knowing I don’t know all there is to know and never will. And more importantly, my life will be lived as an expression of that perspective.
- JB Phillips: Your God is Too Small
- David Benner: Soulful Spirituality