Today a message came into my inbox that told of someone who had a house guest. Although the saying goes that "fish and company stink after three days," the house guest had stayed for several weeks. The host was chagrined that his guest had not showered the entire time. Finally, the pungency of the predicament became overwhelming and the host tactfully reminded the guest that they were welcome to use the shower. To that, the guest replied, "I would have, but I couldn't figure out how to turn it on." If he were a guest from a Third World Shantytown, that might be understandable. Such was not the case with the house guest mentioned above.
This example made me think of all of the wonder and truths that surround us that go untapped because we don't know how to obtain or utilize them. Often a simple inquiry could clarify the issue. In other words, it's important to ask questions. Lots of life can leave us on the sidelines if we don't get in step with the parade of opportunities marching by and open our mouths. There was a endearing commercial on TV several years ago that promoted some kind of a grocery store card program. The Dad pushing his son in a grocery cart simply mused aloud, "I wonder how we could get one of those cards." The tiny boy with tousled hair, barely graduating from baby babble replied, "Just ask'em."
One day my son was working on a sportswear commercial as a "ball boy" with two famous athletes. I decided to put "asking" to the test. We heard through the experience of others that the "stars" would not give autographs or pose for photos. My son worked his little heart out chasing balls, following directions and soaking up too much sunshine. When it was time to wrap, I began very courteously asking questions. "Would you mind autographing a ball for my son?" If it wouldn't be too much trouble would you allow your handsome face to be in a keepsake photo with my son?" Both questions received gracious, positive results. As we went to the wardrobe department to change him back into street clothes and turn in his "work" clothes, he asked me a question. "Mom, these are the nicest clothes I've ever worn. They are so comfortable. Do you think that they would let me keep them?" Let's "just ask'em," son, I replied. The complement was passed along to the wardrobe person and we asked if there was any possibility that he could keep the T-shirt he had been wearing all day in the hot sun. She said, "No." I kindly asked if she were the only one that could make the final decision about it. She replied that it was never the policy to allow wardrobe to go home with the talent but that she did have someone she could ask about it. We were soon gifted with the head-to-toe outfit and no one was ever a better advocate for the brand than we were.
We learned that whether you want to sweat in comfy, name-brand sportswear or shower afterward, asking questions can evoke positive responses. Questions are not just about gaining favors, they have the potential to gain insights and move one along the path to greater understanding. Questions can be enhanced by surrounding them with thoughtful comments that add light or emphasize the purpose of the question. It's not a perfect world. All questions don't evoke the hoped for results, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Before I said goodbye to my teenage years I became employed at a big oil company. A small cheery man greeted me with, "Oh, how I love those big Danish blondes! I blushed and got in and out of his office as quickly as possible. One day, while pausing at his door waiting for him to disarm a ringing phone, I heard him answer it with a question that has stayed with me for a lifetime and has been replicated hundreds of times from my own mouth. After repeating his long, tongue-twister four name introduction, he sang out, "How may I serve you best?" Now that's a golden question!
The most important questions that could be asked are those directed to our Creator. "What is Your plan for me?" "How should I proceed with this?" Is the path I am currently pursuing leading to the most favorable outcome?" How can I best show my gratitude for my blessings?" "What is the best use of my time at this moment?" The good news about posing a question to God is that He never has low signals, dead batteries or messages of unavailability on His waves of communication. He always has our best interest at heart. However, His time frame may appear to be different than our golden questions would hope for. So, He may ask, "Please hold?" Consider not tailgating with another question: "For how long?" Realize that he has a perfect memory and will grant the golden answers to your questions in the time and season that will serve you best.
One of my sizable regrets during the childrearing years was not asking my children more innovative, thought-provoking questions and listening more attentively to their replies, being focused on both spoken and unspoken responses. Rather than always taking advantage of teaching moments, I could have simply asked, "How do you feel about…?" Or, "Do you have any idea how much I care about you and your concerns?" As with adults, they may just want someone to validate their feelings, not offer solutions. It would be enlightening to practice asking more questions in your everyday conversations instead of being content with impersonal texting verbiage devoid of body language. Intelligent questions stimulate creative thinking and inspiration. Ask for what you want in life and then be willing to follow through and get a return on your request. As with a "golden" retriever's boomerang skills – hunting and returning the prize unharmed, "golden" questions can get a welcome return on information from simply asking. A meaningful conversation can begin with asking something as profound as, "What was the most important idea that came into your mind today?" To invoke more cheerful thoughts try, "What was your happiest moment of the day?" If creativity seems to elude you, simply ask, "What's up?"
Written by Nani.
Nani's story reminded me of a talk just given at General Conference which is a meeting that happens twice a year. It is an opportunity to hear from the leaders and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This talk is called, "What Lack I Yet?" by Elder Lawrence. He spoke about asking God how we can improve and receive the inspiration to know what we can work on today. After watching the video, print out the worksheet below and begin a conversation with God as you work to become better today.
Here is another great worksheet you can use as you ask questions and seek answers from a past blog post.