Perhaps one of my favorite questions to ask kids and people, is the all famous, break the ice, questions. The “when you grow up, what do you want to be?” I love this question because you get a varying degree of answers, especially from the tiny humans. Some hilarious answers, some sentimental and sweet, and some odd. When I taught dance, inevitably, every little girl wanted to be a dancer. I met a little girl the other day who wants to be a director or video producer when she grows up, because she loves Youtube. When I was a kid and someone asked me that question, I answered quickly and decidedly: teacher. Someone who molded minds, inspired, and reminded students how precious they were. I wanted to teach English, maybe even French, and spend all my years blessedly content with lesson plans and verbs and summer vacations.
Thinking about our careers and life goals are such important, huge thoughts, that it’s no wonder we start asking three year old’s what they want from life. We forget that they are still so little, so new to this world and they are not even looking forward yet. So we do it for them. I don’t think this is a bad thing, all the time. In some ways, it’s a good way to get an idea of where your child’s passions lie. What career they admire or gravitate towards. What inspires them. However, I don’t think it’s the only question we should be asking the tiny humans in our lives. Or for that matter, the big humans. It’s great to know what you want to do with your life, but it’s also such an important thing to know who you want to be in this life, who they will want to be in this life– versus the what they will do.
Maybe instead of asking them if they want to be an artist or an engineer, maybe ask them what kind of artist or engineer they want to be. Get to the person behind the career choice. Who do you want to be when you are older? Do you want to be a passionate person? A kind person? Do you want to be the kind of person who loves without limits? Do you want to fail? How will you handle failure? Do you want to live a full life? These questions are loaded, and deep, and I get that, but I think it’s always helpful to have someone around who asks these questions of us, especially the parents of the tiny humans. Do you want to be a person who teaches others to be kind? Do you want to be brave? Do you want to be humble? How will you become the person you want to be?
We are in a hard place, right now in this world. People seem to be less tolerant, less understanding and a little meaner. We have debates on Facebook for hours, and we post our views, begging the world to listen to us. We feel the need to make comments we shouldn’t and ignore things we should say something about. We berate the Republicans, or the Democrats, and call our cops racists. We burn churches, and we destroy cities. We say hateful, hurtful things, and we are not loving. We condemn those who believe different, and we generalize way too often.
I wholeheartedly believe our issues are stemming from the fact that we have stopped asking each other the harder questions. The deep, scary, loaded questions. I also believe that because we are unwilling to speak to others face to face, that we are creating an avenue of hurt and mistrust. Through the media and social media, we are hiding behind ourselves. We have stopped gathering around tables for conversations and debates, and now look to the internet to support our views. We’ve stopped forgiving face to face, and we now hide behind screens or walls. We have stopped loving each other well, and that’s scary because a world without humility and love, is not one I am excited to be a part of.
I hope my kids will learn to be the kind ones. I hope that when they are asked what they want to be when they grow up, they will answer excitedly, with their career choice. But I hope they also add to that: I hope they say they will choose to be kind, and loving, and tolerant, and gracious. I hope they will teach others about the love of Jesus, not this world’s way of Jesus, but the Jesus way of Jesus. The real stuff. I hope they answer with who they want to be as people, and lovers of Christ. I hope they answer with faith, and humility, and kindness, always kindness.
Whether you are a tiny human or a big human, I hope you think about who you want to be, instead of just what you want to be. I hope that if you choose to be an artist, or an engineer, you choose to be a kind one. We need you to be kind.