I don’t know.
The more I know the more I realize how little I know. The more I know the more I realize how easy it is to settle for easy answers and pious platitudes to avoid the discomfort of not knowing.
A man was on his hands and knees searching under the light of a lamppost. A passerby asked, “What are you looking for?” The man said, “My keys. I’ve lost my keys.” The passerby asked, “Where did you have them last?” The man said, “Back there in that dark alley.” The man, puzzled, asked, “Why are you looking here?” The man said, “There’s more light here.”
It’s curious Jesus said, “By Faith you will he saved.” He didn’t say we would be saved by certainty or having the right answers. Could it be that an aspect of salvation is to trust not knowing in the midst of suffering, a capacity to bear darkness and uncertainty, and learning to be comfortable with paradox and mystery?
Certainty narrows the aperture through which we see ourselves and the world. We think we know what there is to know and try to convert others to our way of knowing.
“I don’t know” may be the three most liberating words you speak. “I don’t know” invites curiosity and wonder. Curiosity is the open-hearted courage to enter that dark alley where there is no light and be open to surprises.
It’s ok not to know.
Uncertainty doesn’t mean confusion or inadequacy. It means you have the courage to lean into mystery. The height of our knowledge of God is to confess how little we know of God.
Mystery doesn’t mean there is an absence of meaning. It suggests the presence of more meaning than your mind can comprehend.
When we become comfortable with unknowing we enter into new ways of knowing. What I know is that the more comfortable I have become with not knowing the more sacred encounters I have with the unknowable.
There is an arrogance in thinking you know. The humility of not knowing opens you to what Mary Oliver says are ”Mysteries too marvelous to be understood…Let me keep my distance, always,
from those who think they have the answers. Let me keep company, always, with those who say ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment and bow their heads.”
Try on those three words “I don’t know” and watch what happens.