It’s a two year olds favorite question. It’s often the question that makes us the most frustrated with them. They always seem to need to know the reason why something is, even when the thing doesn’t have an obvious reason; it just is.
But even though it’s super frustrating when over used, it’s a question I always try to ask myself when anything significant happens to me, or before I do anything important.
I guess I never fully grew out of the two year old curiousness.
I think the main reason I like to ask this question is because of something Donald Miller wrote in his book Through Painted Deserts, or I sometimes just call it “Deserts”. In Deserts, Miller notices something about people, something I think is really profound. He realizes that most people, especially in larger cities ask more how questions than why questions.
Miller writes, “Recently I have come to believe there are more important questions than the how questions: How do I get money, how do I get laid, how do I become happy, how do I have fun?”
He says that the really important questions in life, the ones that really mean something are the why questions. Why do we need to buy every product we see on an internet ad, or go running after every girl we find attractive, and why do we need to be on a happy high every moment of our waking life?
You see, how questions generally deal with gratifying physical pleasures, while why questions are much more spiritual.
Don’t get me wrong; we need to ask how questions. We can’t just be a bunch of philosophers with our heads in the clouds, we can’t deny our body the things it needs. But if how is the only question we ask, we easily forget that there’s a bigger picture, and that there’s more to life than our small bubble of friends and possessions.
So I ask again: “Why?” With this trip that me and my family are taking, that question becomes more and more prevalent in my life. I find the need to ask why we want to, need to, and will go on this worldwide journey. The two year old in me asks, “What are the reasons behind such a trip?” If our reasons are good, then that’s great. If our reasons are bad, or selfish, or just another way of answering how we’re going to get happy, then we need to rethink the whole thing, and change our hearts.
So I came up with a few answers, answers that I think are pretty good and accurate to why we actually are going on this trip (I like to call it The Trip).
One big reason why we’re doing it is because life is so much more than this bubble of American life. We always forget that God has bigger plans in store for us than the how questions. We’re driven by possessions. We’re driven by having physical and spiritual comfort (neither of which are good to have all the time). We’re driven by selfish ambition. On this trip, we aren’t going to have a whole lot of stuff, nothing more than what we can carry on our backs. On this trip we are planning on being very uncomfortable for long periods of time. On this trip, we’re planning on helping other people in every country we go to. By getting rid of those toxic habits that surround us, we trust that God will fill the gaps they leave. Everyone in my family agrees that this trip is probably going to have a lot of spiritual growth waiting for us. We’re all going to be changed for the better, and changed in a way that will stick with us our whole lives.
A reason I personally want to take this trip is because I believe in the idea of living intentionally. This idea was posed to me by a family friend named Will Rosenberg (check out his blog here) while we were eating ice cream around the table one night a few years ago. He almost certainly doesn’t remember saying it, and it was more of a side comment to something my dad said, but it’s stuck with me, and ever since, I’ve tried to live by that sentence. I like this topic enough that it could be its own blog post, and probably will be later on, but I’ll keep it simple for now. The way I interpret “living intentionally” is that we should always be doing something to change ourselves, and change the situations around us. Act, don’t react. Live life in a purposeful way rather than letting life happen to you. I think that by going on this trip, we’re breaking conventional rules, and acting upon life. Not only that though, but we’re putting ourselves in a position where we will be changed in great ways. We’ll be putting ourselves in situations where we can think about people other than ourselves.
So start talking to the two year old in you. Think about questions other than how.
“Why do I need another pair of shoes when I already have plenty? Why do I love the things I love, and why do I associate myself with the crowd of people that I do?”
Leave us a comment and tell us what some of your “why” questions are.
Excerpt from Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller, 2005. By the way, I didn’t do justice to this book. It’s much better than I was able to fit into one quote. I highly recommend you read this book. It’s probably my favorite book of all time, and is good even after reading it four times.