I don’t know what I don’t know
I’m amazed at how many times in life we enter a situation where we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s not a situation where we have a list of questions and we just Google them or pull out a book to get the answers. It’s a situation where we don’t even know the questions to ask. We’re out of our element; we don’t have the experience, education or training to even know what to ask.
Maybe you’ve been handed a project at work and you’re not sure where to even start.
Maybe your child is struggling with something and you don’t know how to help them.
Maybe you have a relationship problem and you don’t know how to mend it.
What can we do in these situations? Where can we turn?
It seems to me there are 3 logical options:
Stop and wait – buying time is one approach. Do you have time to stop, pray and consider what makes sense? Would having more time make things clearer? Is moving ahead right now necessary? Sometimes, stepping back from a heated situation can allow time for heads to clear and emotions to subside, and clarity comes afterwards. Oftentimes waiting is unwise, but there are times when no decision in the moment is the best decision for now.
Get some help – ask an expert. There is no shame in asking a lot of questions and seeking wise counsel. Could counseling help? Would an expert like a doctor or other professional or Pastor be able to shed light on the situation? When looking back on some situations there are many times I wish that I would have asked for help earlier. Maybe my pride got in the way, or maybe it was fear of the unknown. Maybe it was fear of being told something I didn’t want to hear. Don’t let pride or fear prevent you from seeking help.
Take your best shot – try something and adjust as you go. So many times, this is probably the best option, coupled with seeking wise counsel. Too many times we think we have to have the whole answer or the whole solution before we take the next step. Life is sometimes like driving in the fog – you can’t always see several miles ahead, but you can see far enough ahead to keep going. We need to remember that indecision and inaction is really a decision in and of itself. Doing nothing certainly is an option. Sometimes it’s the best option, but sometimes it’s harmful or detrimental to the situation.
No matter what situation we’re faced with or what options we have, prayer is always the best choice. In “churchy” words, we might say “bathe it in prayer” or “cover it with prayer.” The Apostle Paul would say, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says it another way: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will direct your paths.”
How good are you at “submitting to Him in all your ways” - the big ones and the small ones? I remember reading this verse and being struck by the command that seems to be a condition of having Him direct my paths – it says to submit to Him in all my ways; not some of my ways, not when things are too big for me to figure out, not when I’m desperate, but in all my ways – day by day and moment by moment.