Boy that seems like that would have a simple answer, right? Not so much. At least it is not simple for me.
Most of us start out in childhood barreling through life with little worry about why. We respond and react and run full speed ahead. Somewhere along the way, hurt and pain enter the picture. We change the way we respond to protect and defend ourselves from that pain, creating patterns of behaviors that latch on to our souls and follow us into adulthood like an ant with a free ride on a sugar truck. Suddenly, an innocent comment from a co-worker turns into an emotional wrestling match as the old feelings of pain rise to the surface of our souls and shortly after exit our mouths. Later, we sit in wonder at how that situation went in the direction it did. We don’t have to sit in confusion. We just have to start asking why.
If you have ventured very far into my stories or mission, you will see that this loaded question lies heavy upon my spirit most of the time. But it was not always that way. When I was a child, I asked why things did what they did and how they worked. When I was in college and lived in and out of heartbreak and broken relationships, I asked why “they” did what they did. Then one day I gave my life to a man who gave me my why and now I try to make my first response to turn that question only upon myself. But it is hard.
It is hard to look in the mirror and dive deep for the answers that we have spent our lives avoiding. Why did I snap at that cranky fella at the gas station in impatience? Why did I panic when I thought my kiddo was going to make a decision that would bring more harm than good? Why do I have to control everything? Why do I wear what I wear, say what I say, or do what I do? The very process of asking the question leads us to answers we know are probably going to sting. But the growth happens when we shove that pain aside to reveal its secrets—like ripping back the curtain to reveal the wizard. We may not like the truth we find, but the truth is easier to work with than the lies we hid behind.
It is a question no one else can answer for you. Your experiences, your story, your pain and hopes and heartaches and hurts have built the mask you wear over a long time. And no one else can tell you the answer to your why. Only you can know why you wear that mask. Only you can choose to take it off. But I can tell you what you might feel when you take it off and start asking why you do what you do. Vulnerable but strong. Broken but healing. Fractured but complete. Exposed but authentic. Not finished but on the right path. Uncomfortable but brave. Basically, it is a terrifying taste of real freedom.
Oh, one more thing—never forget that “why” has no expiration date.
This is a question we must keep asking. Over and over and over again. As new situations trigger old feelings. As we step into the uncomfortable and the unknown. We will make mistakes and seek forgiveness. We will take steps forward and steps back (the count doesn’t matter, just keep moving). We will have to rip back that curtain again and again to reveal the truth of our words and decisions. We will grow. Every time we ask ourselves this question, we will sprout a little clarity and a lot of compassion. We will gain a little more good soil and will hydrate our souls in understanding. It is the only way to grow.
So, go ahead—ask yourself this simple but powerful question. Why are you doing this? Rip back that curtain friend and tell the world what you find.