Questions that make you say "Hmm..."
I read an interesting discussion on the BlogHer main site today about questions that people ask of acquaintances or even strangers. A blogger noted that women are often asked questions about when they are going to start a family or when they are going to have a next child. She pointed out that many women suffer from infertility or have lost children. In such cases, questions like those can be very painful.
Others commented that these questions go both ways. Women with large families are asked questions such as, "Don't you know what causes that?" or "Are you trying to be like the Duggars?"
My single friends tell me that they don't care for a boatload of questions along the lines of "Have you found that someone yet?" or "Do you see marriage in your future?"
Once, many years ago, I visited a town where I had once lived. From the window of my hostess' home, I saw an acquaintance. She looked as if she were six months along. She carried her hand protectively over her stomach much as most of us do when we are pregnant. I wondered why I hadn't heard the news through mutual friends, but I was thrilled for her nonetheless. So, I ran out to congratulate her.
I'm sure that you've already guessed why I'm telling this story. My friend was not pregnant! She was merely carrying some extra weight. I felt horrible. I felt just as horrible when the tables were turned and someone asked me the same question in the same circumstances!
I'm sure that's not the only time I have opened my mouth and inserted my foot. Don't you think that we all mean well when we ask such questions? I think we all want to connect on a heart level with the people we encounter. Since marriage and family are close to our own hearts, we naturally turn to that subject for conversational material.
Nonetheless, I have learned the hard way that it's all to easy to wound someone with an ill-considered question or an offhand comment. I love this prayer from Psalm 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Jesus draws people in instantly. He knows just what is in a person's heart and what questions will open their minds to God. To me, his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well is a wonderful example of this. Of course, Jesus is both sinless and has perfect love and wisdom. If I, with my limited insight, wish to ask wise questions, I need to stay prayerful! Otherwise, I tend to open my mouth and insert my foot -- which isn't a pleasant mouthful.
How about you? Have you been wounded by a thoughtless question? When you first meet someone, what do you say or ask in order to get to know them?