Why am I here? It's a common question, I think. A question that takes on extra meaning as we age. Babies don't ask this question, because they instinctively know that they are here to be loved. I suppose that I cannot assert this as as absolute truth, as I don't think anyone has ever polled infants on the matter...but I do know that I have never seen a baby in an existential crisis. Sure, they cry to be held, fed and changed...and then contentedness washes over them as they are loved through basic care and cuddle-y conversation. They are content to be loved, as they deserve, just because they are here.
Little children, especially those in the "Why?" phase of their vocabulary, will start to ask the question, but it is a little different for them than it is for us. "Why do I have a Mommy?" "Why do we live in Ohio?" "Why do I have to eat peas?" As they grow and explore, there are so many questions that kids ask, usually with the requisite "Why?" or "But, why?" thrown in for good measure. As parents, we struggle to answer without giving too much away too soon. I remember when my 5-year-old son asked me, "But how does the baby get into the mommy???," after many conversations about the mommy and daddy who loved each other very much. So I finally told him the rest of the story, on his terms. His only question after that was an astonished, "Does Dad know about this?!?"
School aged kids, ready for more detail to the complicated questions of life, really get into learning everything they can. Maybe they are not so engaged in the classroom, but they learn through play, in an extension of their younger days. They learn through family relationships and friendships. They learn by watching, then they learn to connect all of the information they have taken in. They start to come to conclusions about why they are here in school, in this town, this house, this world. Kids from 4-12 are sponges, and we have a great opportunity to fill them with living water and teach them that they are here to be loved and to love.
Teenagers are really examining the whys and wherefores of life. Unfortunately, many of them have not had childhoods like the ones I have described, and they may not know that they are loved. This is tragic, to be sure. I just finished watching the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why,"* and although it romanticizes the idea of suicide (I am not a fan of this), the underlying message for Hannah Baker is the same "Why am I here?" that we all ask ourselves from time to time. Hannah comes from a good family, so it is difficult to see her going through this crisis, and although she gives 13 reasons, I am still not sure she knows why she did what she did. Somewhere in this world of tolerance, we have lost the keys to basic human kindness. We are not passing onto our children the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...and in this age of social media, some kids (and many adults) are out of control. Lost in this mix are souls, created to be loved but looking in all the wrong places.
Adults, as you know, do the same thing. Looking for love in all the wrong places is a result of defining love incorrectly. Romantic love is what we hope for, and we may experience it in our first love relationships. However, it is mature love that fills us and gives us purpose, and too many of us miss out. Mature love is patient and kind; it does not envy, boast or dishonor others; it is not easily angered or proud, and it keeps no record of wrongs; it always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres, and it is more rare that I would like it to be. Mature love is what we are designed to experience, but too few of us find it, and this lack of love is part of what causes us to question our very existence.
Recently, my father-in-law spent some time in the hospital, and he is now in a nursing home. One of the questions he had for my Sweetie was, "Why am I here?" He is in a facility to help him create more healthy habits, so he might eventually go home. He is in this facility because it had a free bed. He is here because he did not take very good care of himself at home, and everything needs to be regulated for a time before he can be released. Or is he asking about his very existence? Is he asking why he is alive? Why he was born? Why he has not died yet? I just don't know what he is really asking, because he has not expounded. But I do know that even a crusty, cranky 77-year-old who has not always made good choices is here to be loved. So, even though he is difficult to love at times, we will do our best to love him anyway.
Do you know why you are here? I do. You are here to love and to be loved, and if you have not yet found mature love, maybe you should look in some different places. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.
No knitting today, friends, but remember that you were knitted together in your mother's womb, and you are God's masterpiece, designed to be loved.
Thanks for stopping by. Knit and Love in Good Health!
*If your kids/teens insist on watching this, watch with them, Parents. If they have already watched, watch it alone, and talk to them about it. Please know what they are watching and who they are hanging out with.
(John 4:14; Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; John 3:16; Psalm 139:13; Ephesians 2:10)