Five Key Questions to Ask – Ann Voskamp


Carly here!

Most days my Internet reading features light topics such as “spring make-up” or “succulent-growing for beginners.” And you may agree that you wish the most stress we’d incur was the best mascara to buy or how to keep plants alive. But as I type, the state of Maryland is on lock-down because of Baltimore protests that turned violent, and that news is eclipsed by the world’s captivation (and hopefully contribution) to Nepal’s recovery from a devastating earthquake. Maybe it was this tension that caused me to camp out today on Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience. She wrote a thought-provoking piece on 5 questions to ask amidst grief. And since we all encounter grief at some point in our lives, I thought it was a worthwhile read. (As a side note, visit here for 7 ways you can contribute to the Nepal recovery effort.)

The 5 Key Questions to Ask

Kara has flown from her cancer to the other side, absconded.

Elizabeth has a gravestone now; she is nowhere here now, and how, how in the world, can that be — and, sure, I could wait a few months to talk to her again, a year, even two — but how long, how long does this stretching, sore silence between us have to go on now? How can the loveliest have lives so brief?

My sister-in-law tells us that her grandfather is in Kathmandu. Calls to him aren’t getting through. He hasn’t called. You see it on the news in eery color: Mountains have crumpled and thousands howl, digging their dead and broken ones out from underneath the rubble.

The earth under them can’t stop its tremors of grief.

I can’t stop having to heave my way out of nightmares of what I saw and heard in Iraq.

I can’t stop feeling a bit lost, disoriented. The worst grief is a hidden grief that cannot speak.

Let the world keep going on loud and sure of all the things it knows — there are some of us who need time to feel all the things we didn’t know till now.

I hadn’t known: Grief is like caged fear. And if you let enough tears come and not be afraid, the tears can wash away the walls, and you will breathe again. It will hurt. You may never fully recover.

But who wants to cover over the memories of them and all the ways their love opened us up? Wherever our hearts are broken open, their love lives on forever in us right there.

Pay no mind to anything that tries to tell you different: Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.

If you stood on the side porch, as the light deepened and the last of the barbecued pork chops grilled on the flame, you could hear the frogs in the pond down in the fringe of woods.

He and I, and that last girl of ours, we walked down our back gravel road to hear their serenading. I had never known: If you hold the past too tightly, your arms have no room for the present — no room for the gifts of now.

It carried us to the woods, like an epiphany making an opening, making a way through: There’s a way to let the burn of your pain become a fuel for your way.

The snow’s melted in the trail up through the center of the woods. We have time to witness the change.

We have time to go to the water to pray.

Let the world race madly on: There are geese on the pond. There are two shelled islands of turtles, making a wake out across the water. The frogs are singing; there are those who make time to hear them before it’s too late.

I met a guy last week who told me that he carried around five questions that had ploughed a way through grief, through life for him. He had held up his hand and touched each of his fingers, his thumb: “These Five Questions changed me more than anything anyone ever told me.

And if you don’t make time to work out these answers, don’t be upset if your life doesn’t work.

If you want to make sense of life, you have to make time to ask yourself these.”

Grief and sadness and lostness had made me desperate for a way out — had made me desperate to lean in…

What is my greatest fear?

What is my greatest motivator?

What is Truth?

Who is God?

What is Success?

Unless you ask yourself the right questions, your life will never live into the right answers.

{photos courtesy of}

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