Sunday Morning Musings: One of different skills I would work on when playing hockey was that of deflecting the puck. I didn’t have to control the puck just wait for my chance to help it change direction. Over the years and not just in hockey, I have continued to use and watch others use this tactic. Usually it is used when I find myself in a sticky situation. Rather than confront the issue straight on, I like to deflect.
Some would call this tactic as being passive aggressive. Others would see what I was attempting to do and not let me change the subject. Either way the effort was made to control the outcome by manoeuvring around the issue rather than dealing with it head on. I guess the gig is up!
At first I often felt that I did much the same when it came to faith issues, or other spiritual issues of life. When asked a direct question like: Do you believe in the Bible? I would give a “direct” answer. I am sure the questioner would have liked me to respond with a simple “yes” or “no”. If I did answer with such a straight forward response I would often conclude with some type of modification. I might say that I did believe in the Bible but would ask a question of my own. I might add that my answer is yes but only if it was not taken literally.
In time I began to ask myself whether or not I was responding in such a way as to deflect. To answer my own question I had to look at myself and my responses. I might also try to understand the intent of the questioner, but then I found myself trying to read someone else’s mind, and that would lead to me making an assumption and we all know what it makes when we assume anything!
Instead, I tried to focus on my own mind and heart. The first realization I had was that sometimes questions are asked with a hope of gaining insight. Other times questions are asked when the real desire is to state an opinion and try to convince others I am correct. Sometimes questions are a trap and the questioner is waiting to snap the door shut.
Over the years I have often used the skill of reversing the question. Before I would answer I asked questions of clarification, or simply asked the same question of the person posing the question. (Now, in Improv such a tactic results in what is called a “weak question” and could result in “expulsion”.) On the other hand, it is totally appropriate if the intent is to get the person asking to question who truly may be seeking knowledge, to tell me what he or she thinks already. I mentioned in my novella, Dying to Live (now how is that for a plug), about the young boy who wanted to know about God and asked what God looked like. Instead of answering the lad with my “version”, I asked him to draw what he understood. I was not surprised at all when he drew “an old man in the clouds”. That is the concept held by many and I don’t mean just children.
Yet it wasn’t the picture the boy drew that revealed the real question and gave him his answer. Far from it. When he spoke of this “God” he revealed an understanding of kindness and acceptance.
It is important that we always continue to ask questions, but also remember that there is likely more to the answer than first appears.