Life is About Questions, Not Answers


Dear Reader:

The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke urges us to “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in our heart and try to love the questions themselves. ” In other words we should learn to “live our questions.”

Easier said than done…right? Not really. Questions are always more important than answers. Most of us going through school heard at least one teacher, if not more, make the popular comment “There’s no such thing as a stupid question…the only stupid question is the one unasked.”

Thank goodness most classrooms have a “Freddie Jones” in them. Freddie lived in my neighborhood and I think we ended up in the same classrooms/teachers together all the way through elementary school. Freddie was the kid who was not afraid to ask questions… even when he knew he would become the laughing stock of the class.

I have to admit I laughed too because some of them really were “out there” but secretly I loved that Freddie asked the very questions that I didn’t have the nerve to ask for fear of ridicule. Especially in math…I stayed lost in that subject a lot and desperately needed to ask more questions than I ever did…so, in a way, Freddie was my hero.

I now have a feeling that Freddie’s life probably turned out better than the rest of ours…because, even as a child, he was living his questions daily. He understood what the rest of us didn’t…in life its not the answer that is as important as the question…becoming part of the answer through participating in the quest for knowledge.

Think about this idea of living our questions when it comes to our faith…Jesus, by all accounts (regardless of one’s religion) was one of the greatest teachers of all times.

Why…because He asked twice as many questions in His lifetime as He gave answers and then He only directly answered three…indirectly answering all the others…how? Through parables…stories…in other words Jesus made the listener become part of the solution to learning the answer through the “riddles” of storytelling.

Jesus asked 307 questions and answered 183 through parables and more questioning. He never gave a simple, easy answer. Why?

“Easy answers can give us a sense of finality. By entertaining questions God has a chance to change us. Answers can be offered as a conclusion. Questions are an invitation to further reflection. For the most part, answers close and questions open” (Copenhaver)

Even Jesus’ three directly answered questions still kept the door open for individual beliefs concerning one important question.

Who is Jesus? Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?

Today, in the final analysis, Christian faith comes down to that one committed question “Who do YOU say that I am?”

Throughout the Gospels…there are numerous references to Whom Jesus is…as in Matthew:

15 He said to them, “And who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!” (Matthew 16:15-17).

Jesus did not want Peter and His disciples to believe He was the Son of God just because He said so. He wanted God to bring them to this conclusion, based upon the overwhelming evidence of Scripture and our Lord’s life and teaching.

So until tomorrow…If we want to live an open life…we must stay open to more questions and more possibilities. We must not accept easy answers as a final answer because then we live closed, narrow lives.

We only stay life-time learners by asking questions. We must always remain a four-year-old in our hearts and spirits forever.


“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

It has rained a lot here the past several days…and the forecast is still pretty “cloudy” and overcast for the rest of the week until at least Sunday. However, the flowers are happy…in fact dancing in the rain!

Perfect timing…just as the Confederate Jasmine is fading out… taking that magical scent with it…here comes my two deliciously fragrant gardenia bushes with buds about to pop…in fact the first one did! 🙂

And my hydrangea bush…ah the blooms are turning a darker blue…this is the largest one so far…and just breath-taking right before the sun disappears.



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to Life is About Questions, Not Answers

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Becky….I love your entry today and it made me smile thinking about when we get to Glory all the questions we have had will be answered…I get excited everytime I learn something I didn’t know which happens a lot.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I think the first few minutes with God will be me rattling off my list of questions for Him and then responding…”Oh yeah…now I get it…I see it now…that makes sense.” 🙂


  2. Becky,
    What a timely post. I was the child who asked lots of questions. “Why do the preacher get the best pieces of chircken?” Why do the white kids get a new school and black kids get the old school?” Why do girls clean houses and boys play?” My mother would tell me that I was born in the wrong century. I now ask the questions as a professor, and I am learning to ask questions tht cause studnents to reflect and engage with the readings. It is difficult to get some students to read, but I hope that my questions stay in their hearts and minds, even if they don’t know the answers now.

    Great post. Boy, how fast your grandchildren are growing. Eva Cate, Eliose, and the boys are just like weeds. So glad that you are in their young lives, and my prayer is that you will continue to be (in every sense of the word). This may be double. I seem to have lost the first one, but it was LONG.


  3. Becky Dingle says:

    🙂 Too cute! Long…is for the time it has been since we communicated…I sent you a note before I had scrolled down and seen where you left a comment. Great minds think alike! I hope you and all your loved ones are well and adjusting to all of ours “new normal.” I think I was being prepared for this when I was quarantined last year with no car and a serious foot infection from surgery…and then I take the cancer medicines that make me a “new normal” so I was new normaled before it was cool to be so! 🙂
    Loved your memories about asking questions…the best way to learn!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. Beverly Dufford says:

    I, too, was the child with her hand up to ask a question? I remember once (back when we could mention God in the school house) when I was in the sixth grade, my most favorite teacher ever said, “I know I am going to Heaven.” Of course, my hand went up to ask how she could be so sure of that. I remember her answer as if it were yesterday, and she quoted Jesus’s words about believing. I know I was long past the age of what is considered an adult before I really understood her answer. At some point, I also remember asking her what Heaven was like. She replied that no one had been there and returned to tell us, and she knew we didn’t have words that would describe it, but to think of the thing that made me happiest, and Heaven would be filled with it. As a child, I knew I wanted to go because the picture in my mind stayed with me for many years. Too simplistic, but just what I needed at the time. Jesus was a Master at answering a question with a question. He was indeed the Master Teacher. Thank you for your words today.


  5. Becky Dingle says:

    And I love hearing from you, Jo Dufford, the master of master teachers. Storyteller, listener, riddle creator, mentor…you used all these techniques yourself…and your students loved you for them! You spread the happiness here on earth!


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