How I Ask Myself A Question

Bits of paper on my desk with questions and answers

“Which gift of the spirit would you most like to have?” I asked my early morning seminary class.

One of the quietest students in class said she would like answers to the questions in her head.  Or, as I interpret it, the gift of knowledge via answers to her specific questions. Like her, my mind sparks with questions. Questions prompt learning and creativity, especially when we capture and develop them into answers.

I want this, too.” I said. And then I shared what I do. “When I have a question, I write it down on a piece of paper, even just a small slip of paper.” 

1. Expressing the question—in writing or speech—captures it and starts the  process to find answers.

When I come to a stack of these small slips of papers of questions and answers—tangible evidence of my mind’s work, I wonder, “Should I keep them or toss them?”  I’ve stored dozens of notebooks with snippets of questions and answers. I never look at them. These papers simply hold a place for development—an important place.

2. Discovering what I already know, evaluating what else I want to know and researching it invites a search to understand what answers are available.

I could become caught for years in this step of my thought process. Although truth comes from many sources, I  choose those sources I can trust. Staying open is good, but knowing how, where and when truth speaks to you is better.

3. Making it personal links the idea or questions to me and my individual circumstances.

One general spark of thought or question can be developed in a multiplicity of ways. As a writer I might develop it into a blog post or private journal entry, a character or scene in my book, or an interview and an article.  As a teacher and a mother, I might develop a general question into a specific object lesson or a new approach to organizing or delegating responsibility. As a woman, these same questions may lead to emotional and spiritual changes I want to make.

Asking myself a question is like putting sand through an hourglass. I capture it in a certain place, expand my search for the answer within parameters, identify the indidivual truths and pour my answers into a more developed and bigger work. The span of waiting brings more than knowledge; it brings wisdom.

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4 Comments

  1. Liz
    Apr 1, 2009

    What a great idea! Too bad I never have paper around when I have a question in my head. I guess thats what napkins are for. Teaching seminary must be so inspiring.

  2. TJ
    Apr 1, 2009

    Liz,
    I often carry those questions around in the form of an fuzzy internal conflict until I can get to a paper and verbalize them into a real question.

    We do have to work for the “inspiration” of seminary. Being in the scriptures every day like that is a blessing, but still requires much physical and spiritual effort. But the Lord’s grace comes more than I expected and in different ways than I anticipated. So it is neat to recognize the hand of the Lord after every lesson and say, There it was, and there, too.

  3. Unnamed Woman
    Apr 2, 2009

    I like this – I am a list maker myself, and I throw away much of what I write, because it’s served its purpose in the writing.

  4. TJ
    Apr 2, 2009

    Exactly. Writing is a process as much as a finished product.

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