Do you have a “why?” Do you know why you should have a “why?” What in the world is a “why,” anyway? Briefly stated, your why is what makes you get up in the morning and sticking to “it,” until it’s done, no matter what. On the surface it can be that a guy’s why is that he knows if he doesn’t get up and go to work, his family won’t have food on the table. Yet, deeper than that, his why is a mixture of love and purpose that will cause him to lay down his life for them in a heartbeat.
Some folks say that you have not gotten to your why until you cry, or at least have a knot in your throat. If the guy who gets up every morning were to imagine for a moment the prospect of one of his kids getting kidnapped or going missing, chances are he would cry. Your why is knowing and walking in the core reason you were made and put on this Earth. It is more specific than “wanting to make a difference.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but it will not keep you when it looks like you are not, in fact, making a difference. Truly walking in your why helps you take the position of doing a specific activity with no attachment to the outcome. You do it because it’s right, you do it because you can do no other, you take care of “it” before you can let yourself go to bed at night.
Maybe on the surface Rosa Parks wasn’t walking in her why the day she refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery over 60 years ago. The story was that she was tired and just had had it with not being treated like a lady. But I can guarantee you that much more than that gave her the courage to stick to her guns. Way down inside she had a passion for justice that was stronger than either her fatigue or her outrage; that and God’s grace sustained her.
Athletes might start off with a goal centered why that is tied to winning a gold medal in Rio this summer, or beating Auburn or Alabama, depending on which “house” you live in. But, athletes age, and if they don’t have something deeper that lasts past lobbing their last pass, they come up empty. I think that might be why we see such a high incidence of crash-and-burn lifestyles, especially amongst professional athletes, after they are no longer in the stats or the sports shows. They never got a hold of their why.
You’ll read in this edition about Will Haney, who passed away from cancer. Interestingly, while Will worked hard, served his country, “never met a stranger,” he did not get in touch with his why, (which was to go to nursing school) until he was near the end of his life and battling cancer. Why didn’t that come for him earlier? I don’t know, but I have learned this from talking to his family: Will was a “live-er,” and I have the impression that he was quite a nurse himself to the nurses who were taking care of him.
It is said that when you are able to distill your purpose down to six words, you’ll have a short-hand of sorts that serves as a hand hold when you are slipping. Mine has changed over time, and might change again, but it is this, and it is on purpose crafted in the continuing action form of the three verbs because the whole point is to never stop: “Choosing life, doing good, doing well.” The walk-out of that is the “what”, and all of it is pointless if at the end of the day I have not checked in with my boss, the Jewish Carpenter. Find your why, love the One who gave it to you, show it to the world.