What were you made to be?
On one level it’s an incredibly simple question but there’s no single quick answer. It’s a question that can equally lead to a wide range of different answers or an awkward silence.
The crux is this – if we want to understand life, we need to understand ourselves – this species that has come to dominate and shape our world.
I’m going to explore this question in a series of blogs over the coming months interspersed with musings on more immediate happenings.
Why the question?
I can imagine the footage now. An interviewer with a camera crew on a busy street. The interviewer is trying to stop people, many stride on busy and embarrassed. Those that stop are each asked the same question – ‘what you were you made to be?’
For many, the question is enough. They march on, flustered, confused, incredulous. What sort of question is that? What is this a philosophy class? What are you some kind of hippy or mystic? Surely life has enough going on without stopping to examine our navels.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe some would stop and engage, possibly because they have a very clear belief system or sense of self. Their job or their family might offer an instant answer, for others a sense of love and responsibility for each other and the planet might emerge.
My sense is a lot of people wouldn’t want to talk. I don’t think people talk about this kind of stuff very much. There’s a lot more business and banter in our conversation.
But what could be more important than what we are here for?
Let me say from the start that as a Christian and I believe that God has stuff to say about this. What I also want to say in big, flashing neon lights (if those were available) is that my faith is not about pushing my values and beliefs onto others – I really don’t think that’s the Jesus way. Quite the opposite it’s all about the invitation. I just want to offer up some ideas.
Last thought before we dive in – what happens to the sense of wonder we have when kids are born? How come we don’t still look at every person like that as time goes on? How come we don’t have that wonder about our own existence?
I think we’ve lost something along the way. And I’m up for trying to get it back.
We were made unique
There is only one you. Even if you have an identical twin, you know you are you and they are them. Even if you’re one of the 4742 John Smith’s, you know you are that John Smith.
It is an extraordinary, indisputable fact that each of the 7 billion people alive today is a one off as was each of the 107 billion people that have ever lived. We each have our own genetic code that makes us uniquely us.
Surely that in itself should evoke a sense of wonder. More than that, our lives should be a quest to find out just what the unique us is capable of. As parents, isn’t that at least where we start out from?
Somehow this uniqueness doesn’t seem enough to give a sense of value. There isn’t much for time for being before everything becomes about doing. We have to show we are useful by getting grades, passing exams, finding jobs. Life becomes about performance – Facebook likes, Instagram filters, dating profiles.
What happened to just being you? What happened to that new born wonder? The joy of the first words and steps, the magical unfurling of personality and gifts is left long behind. It seems there is no time for that now, no time to pause, to just be, to enjoy what is.
The Bible says that we are more than a sack of cells. We are more than another unit of homo sapien. We are more than a commodity to be hired or propositioned.
The Bible says we are made in God’s image, we are made by him and have something of him in us. This means our existence is not arbitrary, we are not an accident, whatever the circumstances of our birth.
Our existence is a part of God showing himself to the world.