Sunday, June 13, 2010


A particular section of "Awakening Avery" is generating some interesting buzz from readers:

. . . Every word she penned before meeting Paul was written to meet her grandfather’s exacting standards. She could still hear his voice, pushing her, inspiring her. “Ask yourself the hard questions, Avery Xandra! Follow where they lead!”

Disillusioned and unsettled, she took a shower and redressed, all the while hearing her grandfather’s voice in her head. “Don’t just tell a story, Avery Xandra. Take me somewhere. Teach me something.”

The challenge had always seemed too daunting at first. “What could I possibly teach you, Grandfather?”

She still remembered his soft, encouraging rebuke, delivered with a cock of his head and the rapid click of his tongue. “Has anyone else dreamed your dreams? Asked your questions? Seen inside your heart? Show me those things—teach me about those things.”

This section is striking a chord with readers. Perhaps it's because the questions and points cause them to examine their own lives.

Most revealed knowledge has resulted from someone asking, "Why?" or "What?" or "How?" or "Who?" And parents quickly learn that asking questions is sometimes the best way to jump start a conversation with a reluctant child.

But not all questions are created equal. President Eyring addressed the topic of adding power to our questions in an article entitled, "Questions Invite Inspiration." The above section of "Awakening Avery" was inspired by this article, taken from a talk, then Elder Eyring, gave to CES instructors in 1998. Since reading this piece, I have become impressed with the great spiritual power available by asking carefully-posed questions.

Elder Eyring points out that questions fall into three categories, or levels of response:

1. Questions that produce a factual answer, primarily pulled from a memory
2. Question that produce a list of potentially correct responses that require thought
3. Questions that require the responder to search their feelings and pull from past experiences.

Here's an example:

Level one: Who suffered on the cross?
Level two: What was accomplished as a result of the Atonement?
Level three: Can you remember a time when you felt the Atonement working your life?

Can you feel the difference in the power of the questions? A powerful thing happens when we use level three questions--memories invite the Spirit to come and witness of truth. These types of questions are so powerful, and the resulting effects are so tender, that they must be used gently and respectfully.

Now apply them to a parent/child situation.

Level 1: Who was driving the car?
Level 2: How did you end up at the party?
Level 3: What were you feeling when you called me to come and pick you up?

Level three questions provide additional opportunities to gently explore further. For example:

When did you first feel those feelings?
Where do you think those feelings come from?
How can you use those feelings to avoid danger in the future?

When used in a classroom, or in a family group setting, a question posed to one person will stimulate thoughts and memories in all listeners, so all are engaged directly or indirectly.

It requires some practice to think this way and become comfortable with this type of questioning, but the power of our questions increases greatly when we invite the responder to search their memory for feelings and spiritual experiences.

Try it during your next FHE lesson, or use it as you explore the next chapter of your manuscript. I'd love to hear how it works for you!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post. This could definitely help with our Family Home Evening lessons.