Got Questions?

Last week a friend called me with a medical question. This happens from time to time, since before I started filling my days writing and raising children, I was what people refer to as a pharmacist.

The question was simple: “Does this problem warrant a trip to the doctor?” The answer was simple, too: “Yes, it does.”

As we hung up she said, “I’m sorry to bother you with a medical question.”

I guess I’ve developed a reputation, because I often don’t like fielding medical questions. This one, however, I didn’t mind at all. What, I wondered, was the difference?

 I’ll pick on myself first. I didn’t mind this question because I knew the answer. I like to know the answer, so it’s uncomfortable to have to shrug my shoulders as say, “Heck if I know.” So yeah, there’s the pride thing.

But that’s not the only reason. You see, my friend really wanted to hear my answer.

In my experience, most people with medical questions have an agenda. They either want to be told that they don’t really have a problem or that a super-secret quick fix exists (or both). They seem to think that pharmacists and nurses have a stash of little-known home remedies that will take care of any problem.

Pfft. Your doctor’s a quack. It’s all a conspiracy hatched up by the pharmaceutical companies! You don’t really need to take that blood pressure/diabetes/cholesterol medicine!


Oh, that? Just rub some witch hazel on it and tie a packet of oak leaves around your neck. You’ll be cured in less than 24 hours.

So when the person looking for that answer instead hears either, “Your doctor’s right,” or, “I don’t know of any other solution than the one you’ve already been given,” they usually aren’t happy with the answers.

I’m not saying everyone has to agree with me and take my advice. I’m also not saying people shouldn’t ask for clarification if the answer doesn’t make sense. But there’s a point at which “asking questions” turns into “spoiling for a fight” and that just wastes everyone’s time.

I’m sure you’ve figured out that I have an application here. Because this mindset carries over into every aspect of our lives, whether it be religion or politics or where to go for lunch.

Sometimes it’s legitimate. I may not realize how badly I want to paint the living room red until Todd argues for blue. But I need to own that. Rather than pretending I want his advice, I need to switch to “I have my heart set on red, how do you feel about that?” Then we can go from there.

The most hurtful things I’ve encountered in the church were not when someone had an issue that they felt was a deal breaker and decided to go a different way, but when someone already had their mind made up and refused to admit it.

Disagreements are inevitable, and some things are worth fighting for. We just need to be honest about where we stand, instead of pretending to be seeking answers when we’re really just getting set to argue.


  1. says

    The gotcha tendency. I do notice a tendency to argue among Reformed circles about theology and it really bothers me when it has to spill over in other areas. It’s as if contending for the faith turns into being contentious in general.

    Perhaps we need to watch how we phrase things. “Do you have an opinion on. . ?”, “What are your thoughts on . . . ?” and so forth. Then we need to be gracious for the input we are given, whether we choose to agree or not.

    Then I think we just have to walk away from debates that aren’t important to us.

    By the way, Staci, are you painting your living room red?

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