Well, Why Not?



Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Season of “Why?”

It’s not just a question my three-year-old asks me on an hourly basis, but it’s a weight I carry in my shoulders and back, a burden that pulses straight down to my bones.

A text comes in, and then an email. A news headline darts across the screen of my phone, and it’s just enough to send me over the edge. I begin hurling a litany of whys any and every direction accusations can be lobbed: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does destruction and death and evil seem to reign prevalent in our world? Why is this hard thing happening to this particular friend, again … why does it feel like I can’t seem to catch a break … why, why and why, O God?

Maybe I’m the only one, but I can get so caught up in the whys.

Asking why is not a bad thing in and of itself, and certainly not for a curious and inquisitive young child who is finding his voice and gleaning information by the hour. But for me, for Cara the Grown-Up Human, sometimes all the whys can end in blaming, pointing fingers. Sometimes all my whys distance me from God; I become too busy casting criticism to notice how I might be able to change the trajectory of the story altogether.

And this is where and how and why I’ve found this year’s new question: “Well, why not?” Sometimes, when life is hard, the question of why seems to come altogether too easily, and that’s when I realize I have a choice in the matter.

I choose to flip my questioning around.

I choose to turn the equation upside down.

Most of the time, it makes me pause. It makes me stop and think and mull over my original question the one that felt like it was creeping into my very soul mere minutes before.

When I choose to ask “Why not?” on a daily basis, I also choose to turn the story upside down. I choose to rewrite the expected norm, and I also choose to believe that what I see in front of me is not the end of the story. And this, to me, is Christ. This, to me, is part and parcel of God’s great plan in the history of humanity.

Really, asking this question is a form of slaying the dragons, or at least to believe that there’s something you and I can do as we fight the bad guys in our world. Theologian G.K. Chesterton says it this way: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”*

Instead of getting tripped up by the negativity of the whys, I instead make it a practice of asking myself, “Why not?” throughout the day. Most of the time, it’s in and with the little things: I’m a small writer with little influence—I can’t really make a difference in the world. Well, why not? I’m too tired to get down on the floor and play Legos for the thirty-third time today. I can’t do this parenthood thing, at least not well. Well, why not? I’m overwhelmed by all that’s going on in the world; I don’t think me helping this one homeless person on the corner of MacArthur and Fruitvale is really going to make a difference. Well, again I say, why not?

As I ask this simple question to myself, somehow I begin to hear more clearly who I already am, who God already sees and believes me to be. In some miraculous, effervescent, Spirit-reign-down sort of way, I actually begin to believe that I, too, can be a world-changer. I, too, can make a difference. I, too, am enough just as I am now and just as I will be tomorrow. Perhaps it’s the same for you as well.

So maybe, just maybe, we all can slay the dragons.