All of these are important words. These are the words you use to discern things you don’t know. They’re the words used to describe situations and outcomes and reasoning. In the courtroom, lawyers use these questions and evidence to prove a case. I am of the mind that far and away the most important of the bunch is why. Everything else can fall into place after knowing the answer to that question.
Imagine standing in front of a burning building. The blaze is ferocious, with the flames quickly devouring the structure. You can feel the heat swell from what is an otherwise safe distance. The cause looks lost for it and all its contents. Imagine now that I’ve asked you to go inside, facing sure danger. How you’ll get in probably doesn’t even cross your mind, you want no part of facing those flames. When is something that probably seems absurd at the moment, with the clear time of danger being now. But imagine if I had told you that a loved one of yours was inside. Now the answers to those other questions become less like objections and more like obstacles. You know you’re ready to enter the burning building as soon as you can, by an means necessary, to retrieve the one you love. All because of why.
Now, I hope that the visual I just described never comes up in your life but I think that it lets us see why as more than a question. My why is my motivation, my driving force, the question that dictates the relevance of any and all other questions in life. I think too many times in life I can get caught up in thinking of terms of who, what, or when. As I’ve gotten older, I especially find myself zeroing in on when. I should be here already, or have accomplished this work or social thing. I look at my age as something to grade the rest of my doings. Sometimes, my eyes drift over to what I don’t have. That nice new car or the body that I don’t have. I can find myself wishing I had relationships with certain people or at least better communication with the ones that I do. All of this looking for these other questions to fulfill me just leaves me wondering why I operate like that.
I believe that affirming your convictions and knowing your reason behind your actions ahead of everything else allows you to live more intentionally. To move with a greater purpose and not be swayed by the thoughts and feelings of others. I don’t think that having this focus is possible all of the time or that it’s always easy to come into an understanding of. It takes a lot of personal reflection. But I believe that knowing the answer to that one question in our life allows us to hold to an identity that others cannot devalue. For me, I know that I am loved by others and called to love those around me. To love them to the point that I would love myself. I’m not always very good at that. In fact, I can be pretty awful at it sometimes. Especially when I allow those other questions to define where I’m headed in life. But I can rest in the fact that Christ loves me, though I don’t know why. So I can find it easier to know why I should take steps to love others.
The chorus of the Newsboys song ‘Shine’ makes me think of what allowing your why to be Christ’s love really should be like.
Make ’em wonder what you’ve got
Make ’em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored
Let it shine before all men
Let’em see good works, and then
Let ’em glorify the Lord