Have you ever heard the saying; you don’t know what you don’t know? When you are young, you think you know everything, right? As you grow up and experience life and its challenges, you start to realise, more and more, there are many things you don’t know. Do you understand what I am talking about? There are things you don’t know that you don’t know, but you actually do want to know them, and there are things you know you don’t know and you’re not sure if you ever want to know. I am positive I have totally confused you. Sometimes it takes courage to know what you don’t know.

I am going to try to decipher this mumbo-jumbo now with an experience I have just had. My good friend Kate is an amazing lady. She has a deep faith and strong belief in God and has been led to invest a large part of her already full life helping, feeding, and sharing hope with many homeless people in Melbourne’s CBD. Through the church we both attended, a premises was purpose developed with just this task in mind, but it has been Kate who has really brought it to life. So, now Kate leads a team of people who every Wednesday and Saturday evenings offer refuge, food, clothes, supplies, and prayer for the disturbing number of people who don’t have a roof over their heads, or, often, food on their tables.

Kate has been asking and encouraging me for around 12 months to come and see what she is doing and help out on one of the nights she and the team are there. She has been constantly telling me what they are doing, the stories of some of these people, and the difference they are making. I kept saying to Kate, ‘I would love to come, but I just can’t do it this week. I will definitely come, one day’. Do you know what ‘one day’ actually means? It means ‘no day’!  So, I kept telling Kate I would come, and I kept making excuses why I couldn’t. The reality was that I was terrified. I didn’t know what I was terrified of, I just was.

Finally, after Kate asked for the umpteenth time, I said I would come. I had run out of excuses! Suddenly, fear filled my body, and from the moment I had said I would come, I was hoping that Kate would ring and cancel. She didn’t, and so, last Saturday I drove into the city for this experience. Why was I so scared? I thought maybe because I wouldn’t know what to say to these people. I considered that I was worried that they would judge me. And ashamed as I am to admit it, there may have been a small fear that I could get hurt. However, after spending a few hours with these people, I discovered that the reason for my fear was totally different. The truth was that I was scared to know the reality of the situation.

Let me explain what I mean. As I mingled amongst, chatted to, served food to, arranged chairs and tables for these people, I felt incredible sadness and empathy. I saw people, real people who had fallen on hard times, and now didn’t even have a roof over their head or food on their table, the things most of us just take for granted. I saw and met people who, simply because they were going through a tough time in their lives were being treated more like animals than people by many, even, and again ashamed to admit it, by me up until that evening. I had been there only a short time and had done barely anything and people were coming to me and thanking me, with tears in their eyes, for helping them. It was a transformational few hours, for sure, and I left a changed man with a desire to do more to help these people.

As I drove home, it became clear to me that my fear was in knowing. I was scared that once I knew the reality of the situation, I could no longer stick my head in the sand and pretend it wasn’t happening. I was terrified because, If I knew the truth, what if I couldn’t do anything about it? I was petrified that I wasn’t strong enough, resilient enough, or capable enough to make a difference in the lives of these people. My fear was in knowing, and I realised on my drive home, that it took courage for me to step into that space and know the truth. This is why I have so much respect and admiration for my friend Kate.

Over the next few days, I thought about it, spoke to others about it, and am now committed to do what I can do to help. I have realised that I don’t need to be afraid, all I can do is all I can do, and that is enough. The fear of knowing is very real for all of us. Knowing that there may be a health issue is terrifying. Knowing the truth about a failing relationship is horrifying. Knowing the reality about finances may cause panic. The problem with not knowing is that nothing can or will change. When you have the courage to know, and you find out, then you can do what you can do to create change.

I love my conversation with Matt Caruana on this week’s podcast called, Trust and belief. When Matt faced the truth and really understood where he was at, he was able to start on the journey of doing what many believed was not possible. He severed his spinal cord, and despite being told he will never walk again, he is taking his first steps. It is a truly inspiring conversation, well worth a listen.

When you know, you can create change. That is a powerful concept. Let me say it again, when you know, you can create change. The thought of knowing is terrifying, but in fact, knowing is the most empowering thing you can do. Find the courage inside of you to get the knowledge you need to create positive change and enjoy where it leads you.