being and doing

Who do you want to become?

I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. Psalm 57:2

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’ll bet you have asked that question of children numerous times. At what age do you remember first being asked that question? Do you recall some of your early answers? At the root of the question is an even more important life-purpose question – “who do you want to become?” From childhood on, that question can intrigue, inspire, infatuate or infuriate us our entire lives.

Why do we find ourselves, like hiking some circuitous looping trail, repeatedly stumbling back upon that same probing question? For one thing most of us in our unguarded moments would admit we still feel like eternal kids or teenagers in our heart of hearts. There is a sense we have when confronted with our own vulnerability or weaknesses or failures that we really have not progressed as far in life as we had imagined; and in fact may be stuck in a kind emotional adolescence still groping with questions of that sort.

I had a friend, a diminutive woman with the boldness of a lion, who was a social worker in a men’s residential treatment center. She made it her practice to stand toe to toe with new residents, and while staring up at them and pointing her forefinger at their chest. She would ask, “How old are you? I mean really, not chronologically, but inside, how old are you?” And she told me in her many years working there nearly every man gave the same essential answer. They all admitted to still being teenagers.

“Who do I want to become?” Why do we keep coming back to that question? Probably the most salient reason is that it is all too easy to repeatedly get side-tracked by seemingly urgent and persistent questions such as “What do I want to get done?” The pressure of getting things done often preempts and causes us to disregard the more important focus of pursuing who we want to become.

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