Soothing with a Why

I’ve had a few conversations with friends lately that have been focused on the WHY. And I’ve had my own issues with a WHY.

Something horrible.

We don’t usually question the WHY of something good.

And I like answers to WHY as much as anyone, but from experience, the answer to the WHYs rarely make us feel better.

I  had a therapist who would say, “What will the WHY give you?”

When your heart gets broken, the WHY doesn’t affect the pain.

The WHY speaks to the logic of your brain. Your heart responds to logic of a different sort. One, I believe, the WHY can not provide.

Think about some of the unanswerables in your own life. The things that make you choke up even though they are from ages ago. Things that make you grind your teeth. Things that make you wonder what in God’s name is…well- God– doing.

Now imagine a mountaintop guru that would provide the WHY for those things. And let’s say there is a gondola to the mountaintop so you don’t even have to face an arduous hike to get your WHYs.

None of that really changes my feelings. This recent story out of Cleveland. There is no WHY that is going to make me feel better. WHYs that are missing about the end of my marriage. WHYs about friends.


Even with a gondola ride- and even imagining a gondola ride that served martinis- I would not receive the WHYs and then feel fine. I would probably be more like the young child who asks why the sun is hot and when that is explained, pauses, nods, and says, “But why?”

WHYs can be a bottomless pit that only lead to more WHYs. For every WHY I understand about mental illness, relationship dynamics, and God’s mystery- there are many more WHYs I will never understand. And if I did, it still wouldn’t mean I felt better because the part of me that aches and struggles and cries and grieves can not be soothed by a WHY.