Families with young children almost always have certain words that are not allowed in the home. Usually these are the 4-letter variety and a few others like shut up or stupid. In our family we also banned the all too common phrase, "I don't know."
Those of you who don't have children may be wondering why, but the parents out there are nodding their heads. Parents hear this phrase a lot.
"Who made this mess on the floor?"
"I don't know."
"What did I tell you about that?"
"I don't know."
"Where is your homework?"
"I don't know."
But it isn't just children that are habitually retreating to this escape phrase. Adults are guilty of it too. My husband and I realized that very quickly when we banned it!
When we say, "I don't know", a door in our mind slams shut. Whether the question is a simple, "where is the remote control?", or something more complicated such as "how do cell phones work?", or "why do people have trouble accepting new ideas?" Once we say, "I don't know" our thinking on that subject ceases. That is quite sad when we consider that our knowledge is one of the few things we can take with us at the end of this life. How many opportunities for growth and learning are missed because of this seemingly harmless phrase?
We have been pleasantly surprised to see the results of keeping the mental doors open, and encouraging the thought process both in ourselves as parents and in our children. Now when someone asks for the remote control instead of saying by habit, "I don't know", we think for a moment and perhaps say, "I remember that the baby had it by the couch." So we look under the couch and there it is. That was much more helpful than "I don't know."! My husband, who loves science, has found wonderful ideas come to his mind about scientific questions like "why is the sky blue?" As a mom, my main concerns are more philosophical such as "why is this child misbehaving?" As I open the doors of my mind, I find the solutions to such problems forming themselves in my mind. An unexpected and welcomed result of all this has been seeing the answers the children come up with when they are encouraged to think things through. Some of their answers are humorous, but others are quite profound. Never underestimate a child.
Of course, we are creatures of habit. There is a temptation to slip back into our comfort zone by substituting, "I'm not sure". To remedy that, we are encouraging the children and ourselves to say instead, "I wonder...", "I think..." or "Perhaps..."
"I wonder" is an incredible key for opening up our minds and sparking our curiousity. I believe this is the secret of many great scientists, inventors, and philosophers. Just imagine where we would be if Thomas Edison had been content with "I don't know" instead of opening his mind with "I wonder". "I wonder" can bless our lives in so many ways.
The greatest benefit of "I wonder" is that it opens our minds to receive the Spirit. I am convinced that the important answers we have received since we made this change in our home, have come from the Spirit. Taking the time to study something out in our minds, prepares our mind to receive instruction and true knowledge from The Source of all truth and knowledge.
Searching the scriptures we will find many times the instruction to "ponder these things". We will also see many examples of prophets and great women of the scriptures who received revelation and guidance after they pondered their questions in their hearts. They wondered, prayed and listened.
Imagine yourself reading Isaiah. If you put the scriptures down and shake your head, "I don't know what he is talking about!" Then you will never understand him. However, if you say "I wonder what Isaiah meant by that?" and ponder different possibilities through out your day, then you have opened up your mind and heart to be taught by the Spirit.
This learning does not have to be limited to spiritual things though. As we ponder, or I like to say, "marinate in our minds" any knowledge we wish to receive whether it is spiritual, scientific, or philosophical, insights will come to us by the Holy Ghost. Is there any doubt that Galileo, Mozart or George Washington where blessed with the Spirit to accomplish what they did in their lives?
As sons and daughters of God, we each have the seeds of divinity in us. We too can accomplish great things. "I wonder...." is a the first step.