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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#44 Help.

It dawned on me the other day that I’ve spent virtually my entire working life asking people questions.

In my days as a local journalist I’d spend all day doing it - on the phone in the newsroom or out on a job.

It was usually a combination of the five Ws and the one H: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

‘How exactly did your cat get stuck up that tree, madam?’

Now as a pioneer priest, I spend much of my time asking the big questions of life - or trying to answer them.

Before lockdown - in an effort to spice up an RE lesson - I challenged a class of ten-year-olds to ‘ask me anything’.

‘No question off limits’, I told them.

Big mistake.

I left that classroom a gibbering wreck.

A little lad was the first to put his hand up.

He asked: ‘Reverend Matt - why do I exist?’

Then the questions got really hard.

‘Would God forgive Hitler?’

‘Am I related to Adam and Eve?’

‘What’s my purpose in life?’

What a relief when someone asked how old I was and if I’d ever met Ariane Grande.

‘Forty-four’ and ‘No, but my daughter’s are desperate to’ were the best answers I gave.

I think asking questions - of ourselves, our beliefs and the world around us - can be essential to human flourishing.

I asked a big, uncomfortable question of my own last year.

To my doctor.

The ‘What’s wrong with me?’ question.

I’d had a bit of a funny turn driving on the motorway.

Sudden hot sweats, racing heartbeat. Breathless panic.

It scared me.

Anyway, it turns out I’m fine.

After various proddings and tests, my GP said I just needed to slow down a bit.

Be kinder to my body.

Take a proper day off.

I’m certainly trying.

The point is that it took me far too long to ask the ‘help’ question.

I put it off.

I think so many of us are sometimes too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help - even to the detriment of our mental or physical health.

Yet - in my experience - the beautiful truth is that someone is nearly always willing to offer it.

I’m trying to get better at asking for God's help, too.

After all Jesus said: ‘Ask and you shall receive.'

So I’ve been carving out more times of quiet prayer and reflection.

It’s helped slow me down.

Provided inner comfort.

Made me see that it’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes. Essential, even.

In my Christian journey, I've also got more comfortable resorting to that most humbling of all answers:

‘I don’t know.’

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