Why – Not?! Learning to live in the how…
My mom and I had dinner recently and as we were talking she mentioned that the question “Why” is almost always the wrong question. It got me thinking and wanting to ask the question, “Why is that?!” (hahaha) Why do humans always want to know why? We seem to have a need to justify things by having an explanation. Does knowing why change us and how we live? If I knew why would it change how I live? Would it?
Is it okay to ask God why? Of course it is; God won’t add lightning to the mix if I question Him. It does not mean that I suffer from a lack of faith nor does it mean that I have sinned by wanting to understand the purpose behind the situation. At least the examples I have in scripture would indicate that I can go without shame before the Throne. In fact the whole book of Habakkuk is a questioning of God’s plan for His chosen people. So yes it is okay to ask God, the Creator of all things good, and the giver of all things good, for His purpose in putting us through some sort of trial; in fact knowing that Good and Loving Heavenly father well should be the reminder that He is is the blessed controller of all things and that he is a good God. The Bible expects us to ask God for wisdom. In fact, James said – When you’re in a trial, count it joy. Because this testing is going to bring about perseverance. And that perseverance, if you let it keep you in the trial until God deems it to be finished, when it’s finished its work, you will be perfect and complete – lacking nothing. But while you’re in that trial, If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. And we have examples in Scripture: Moses asked why. Joshua asked. Job asked. David, the man after God’s own heart asked. King Hezekiah asked and got 15 years added to his life. Even Jesus, who as the God-man knew all things, asked why. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45)
Perhaps sometimes, we already know the answer to the question we ask. We just still don’t understand that answer. Perhaps its a natural human response to find a purpose for what we’ve been given from God. When we ask why we are peering into purpose and as we discover His divine purpose we become conquerers. Just…be ready for God’s answer or His silence. Asking God why does not mean that I am entitled to an answer, and I am definitely NOT entitled to the answer I think I want. Prayer in general is not a magical formula to manipulate God into working things out the way or the time frame that I want them to Further, if someone told you there is no “why” answer; that you just have to get on with it, would it change anything? Does having an explanation change things? Does knowing there is no explanation change things? What if there is no why?
I don’t know if we would all stop looking for explanations, but, irregardless we could perhaps change our question from why to how. How am I here, how is it, that, this… possible, how can I do that (whatever), how can I change, how can things be better… etc etc. Maybe. The question ” why ” pre-establishes an assumption that there must be a purpose or a meaning behind the every situation. While that may be true, those meanings are primarily subjective, self-serving and circumstantial, experimentally untestable and should therefore, be placed aside in our quest for answers. At the same time that I am trying to find meaning, God owes me nothing. No answer. No rationale. No promise. No purpose that can be thwarted and yet he loves with no strings attached and always has my best interest in mind. So with or without answers to the “why”, my “how” can be living with trust, and lean in with expectation and hope.
Let me suggest “why” I think this is a good idea when it comes to loss and grief. “Why” is a question with no answer when it comes to loss. “Why” offers more questions than comfort. “How” explores possibilities. “How” shines a light into the future. “Why” can be a powerful question that leads to clarity and progress, but it can also be a roadblock in the one-way traffic of life. Life doesn’t come with reverse, only neutral and various speeds of forward progress. Since my husband passed away in November of 2010, I have made hundreds of vows to remember every detail I can about the man who was the other half of my heart., I believe my desire to keep his memory alive has been best answered by learning to turn my “whys” into “hows.” I have found that asking “why” freezes me in my tracks and prevents any opportunity for growth or movement toward healing. Not being able to let go of needing to know “why” forces me to focus on the rear view mirror. It keeps me in the past and prevents me from walking in a manner worthy of the Cross as well as living in a way that honors the memory of Jim. “Why” firmly plants me in neutral, and my brain whirls at sonic speed wasting time looking for its answer. It is easy to assume if I found the answer to the “why,” I would find comfort and would be able to pick up the pieces and move on. However, it is exploring “how” to live a life in light of eternity that honors the memory of my husband and has actually done more to move me forward . Upon realizing that being stuck in “why” will never ease the pain of losing Jim, I realize that how I live the rest of my life is the outward manifestation living insight of eternity through the power of the resurrected Christ. Doing so is the only way anyone will ever get to experience the way my amazing spouse lived his life, and the best way I can keep his memory alive. If I continue to live in the “why,” I, in effect, extinguish the power of God through me and diminish Jim’s memory, but by living in the “how” I magnify his memory by my actions and illuminate the focus on Jesus, shining brightly through and in spite of me. It doesn’t make the grief go away; rather, it ignites my grief as a powerful vessel for change. My “how” is manifested is cultivating a life of adventure and energy to embrace a life that reflects Jesus and Jim’s best qualities. It is a labor of love that I embrace life, take risks, be courageous, pay it forward, and act in a way that makes people ask what makes me tick. Join me as I continue to learn how to live in the “how.”