The Freedom In “I Don’t Know”
“Charlie- but why would God allow X?”
I don’t know.
“Charlie- but why would God reveal Himself through a series of books?”
I don’t know.
“Charlie- when do you think you’re going to find a girlfriend?”
I don’t know.
I don’t know- three words I used to be terrified of…they ooze uncertainty, our shared fears and insecurities demand definites and certainties. In debate with sceptics or with opponents in political discourse, “I don’t know” is framed as weakness…”Haha, got ya” the feeling when your opponent is stumped.
I have reached an age where I am starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin…resting in the knowledge that I am loved by God and convinced He will work things out for the better in my life. Status used to be so important for me- I had to win arguments and debates; I had to prove the reality of my God; I had to ooze certainty and had to play the act of feeling correct.
But I have started to give up playing this little act because it ultimately feels like a game. Leaving university has been a humbling experience for myself- I headed up several societies and took on too much…”how good can I get my CV to look”. But you realise the insignificance of it all once you leave the echo-chamber. Status was temporary; I don’t have the opportunity for rigorous debate as often (I enjoyed debating with atheist friends and seeking sceptics but in reality most people don’t care enough about it). The opportunity to play the part is less, and it was exposing. It exposed my fragility and insecurity.
But what felt like a heavy burden is now feeling like freedom. I am more comfortable with the uncertainties of this world and this life. It is indeed the Holy Book that I study that says we live by faith, not by sight. I no longer feel a pressure to perform or conform. My lack of partner, which has been a big burden to bear, is no more. Of course I would love a partner- I do get lonely, but I am starting to enter rest in the not-knowing, in the knowing that within the not-knowing is that my God has already worked it out.
When people ask me complex questions of the God I believe in, I now feel comfortable in saying “I don’t know”. A faith isn’t intellectual- you can have intellectual discussion on matters of theology but faith is a heart-issue. I don’t love my God because I can intellectually defend His existence, because in reality I am rubbish at it, I was just really good at pretending I could. God doesn’t need my feeble efforts to defend Him- sure, I will talk to others about my faith, as Jesus commands, but I shan’t be afraid to respond with a “don’t know”. “Why did God allow my brother to die young?” I don’t know. It sounds unsympathetic, but I shall not patronise such a person because I don’t know such an experience. But God does.
It causes an uneasiness to most people, not knowing. But in this life, I am starting to feel more free. I am not saying I have it all together- I don’t, and anyone who pretends otherwise is merely performing well under the spotlight. We are all fundamentally broken creatures in a planet full of unknowables…perhaps we need to frame the unknowables as something to be content with as opposed to allowing it to trigger such unnecessary anxiety.