These three simple words can strike ice cold terror in the hearts of adult men and women. I don’t know. Forget about the screaming ghosts and demons portrayed in stories and movies meant to frighten children. That’s nothing compared to the horror that speaking those three words brings to some people. The admission can be the monster-of-a-lifetime hiding under the bed of even the most confident and accomplished grownup.
Why is it so difficult to simply admit we don’t have the answer to a question or the solution to a problem? After all, we are the same kids that peppered our parents with questions day and night. We were curious about all things big and small. We didn’t hesitate to incessantly ask until we were satisfied we knew the answers. But most of us lost the courage to acknowledge what we don’t know somewhere along the road to adulthood.
Some people go to great lengths to hide they don’t know something, no matter how minor. Have you ever asked someone a question and rather than admitting they don’t know the answer, they start speaking off the top of their head? Wouldn’t it be less confusing if they just simply said, “I don’t know”? Abraham Lincoln was attributed with the quote, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Although this idea originated from the Bible (Prov. 17:28), it certainly applies to someone who insists on appearing to know what they don’t.
Most likely, the root of our hesitancy to leave questions unanswered is fear. We might be afraid to appear ignorant. But really, are we supposed to know everything about every subject just because we’re adults? I certainly hope not. The fear of simply not knowing something that seems important might be another deterrent. Maybe they have scars from a “that’s a stupid question” remark as a child.
Then there are those that are absolutely terrified of being humble – also known as pride. Pride can stop someone from asking another person for answers to questions they don’t know. Or from admitting they are too lazy to search out the answer themselves. Why remain in a cycle of fear and pride when the way of escape comes in three words? The truth is, I don’t know. At least not for sure. But I’m willing to say so. After that, I’m on the hunt to find answers that will help me to defeat my own giant.
Does not knowing the answer give you nightmares? Dare to make it a habit to face the fear, speak the words, and seek out answers. Be the dragon-slayer in someone else’s life and share what you’ve learned with others.