Some time ago, I was talking with someone that wanted to learn something about the signs and symptoms his relative was experiencing. I asked for more details on when they started, what he did to alleviate them, the progression etc., but I couldn’t decipher what exactly was wrong with him.
After all my questions, he finally popped the question everyone asks after all the runaround, “Chibi, what do you think he is suffering from?” Well, from the pieces of information that I got from him, I could say a few things about the possible ailments his relative might be suffering from, but I couldn’t pin it down to one accurate diagnosis.
While I mused on the differential diagnosis of his relative’s symptoms, I knew that I lacked several elements that would help me give a proper diagnosis. So, as much as I would love to help, I had to admit that I don’t know what the accurate diagnosis was.
He looked sad and a bit disappointed that I couldn’t tell what the problem was, but I had to explain to him that it’s best for someone close to his relative to visit him, do a proper history taking, physical examination, formulate a differential diagnosis, possibly carry out some tests, reach a final diagnosis and then treatment.
I must say that I had the temptation to mention the name of a disease that is prevalent in that country to him – the symptoms and signs seemed to lead to that conclusion, but I also knew that those symptoms weren’t exclusive to that disease.
So, I admitted, “I’m sorry dear, but I don’t know. I wish I could help, but you know, I can’t see your relative and so, it’s a bit difficult to counsel on treatment. Kindly take him to the nearest hospital and have him seen by a doctor who from a close range would definitely do better than myself that is thousands of kilometres away.” Thank God he listened to me and his relative is doing very well now.
These few words I DON’T KNOW look very simple to say, but sometimes they’re quite heavy to pronounce. For instance, something has happened at the place of work, in your business, at Church; someone has suffered losses and is in desperate need of explanations and consolation; death, disappointment and natural disasters are everywhere and folks are expecting you to know something about it because, well, you’re a pastor, a leader, a teacher, a doctor, a writer, a scientist, a speaker, a lawyer, an administrator etc. and you’re under pressure to say something about these occurrences.
You’re under pressure to give an explanation, to make them find reasons behind what happened. And because of the pressure, you begin to dish out explanations that are simply based on your feelings and not on facts. You want to appease them, you want to make a good impression. So, you make statements that have no foundation or basis in fact.
Well, I’ve come to realise that there are things you can’t explain. There are many things you don’t know even if you’re ultra specialised in that field; the more you study, research and learn, the more you realise how much there is to discover and understand.
I’ve come to realise that there are things only God knows, only Him understands and only Him can explain. And since you are not God and can never be God, please admit your human limitation and be humble enough to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
Don’t allow pride or the desire to impress people to make you run into troubles where you’re inventing answers for things you know nothing about. Don’t try to interpret every phenomenon, giving false counsels and leading others astray.
- I don’t know is an act of sincerity that there are things you truly don’t know.
- I don’t know is a token of humility that shows that you are not God.
- I don’t know is a sign of respect to the questioner instead of treating people as fools that have no understanding.
- I don’t know is a mark of recognition towards Him (GOD) that knows all and understands all.
- I don’t know is evidence of a student, a learner who understands that he doesn’t know all and so desires to know more.
Psalm 131:1 “Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.”
Now practice this. Say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know.” Repeat it. And again.
Don’t you feel light?